If you're the best-looking member in Congress, that won't guarantee you a high-ranking committee chair but it will bring you coveted media attention.
That's the finding from a new study by two Israeli professors in the journal of Political Communication. According to The New York Times, researchers Israel Waismel-Manora and Yariv Tsfatib quantified the level of coverage of members of Congress across television, radio and print. Accounting for a number of factors including race, gender, constituency size and ideology, they found that for network television specifically, the most attractive members of Congress received the most coverage. (Non-television outlets such as NPR and USA Today were not swayed by physical appeal.) The physical attractiveness of the lawmakers was based on a 2007 study asking students to rank House and Senate members on a sliding scale of attractiveness. So who are these sultry lawmakers and what kind of TV coverage have they garnered? Here's a look at the most physically attractive members of Congress according to the survey of students.
Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee
This fair-haired Nashville Republican represents Tennessee's congressional district covering Nashville and the suburbs of Memphis. You may have not heard of her but it hasn't stopped her from scoring the mother of all TV hits (i.e. NBC's Sunday political talk show Meet the Press)
Here's a clip of Blackburn appearing on the show in 2010 addressing the controversy of the week with host David Gregory. (Apparently Michele Bachmann referred to the Obama administration as "gangster government"--oh how the expectations of civility have changed!)
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota.
In the upper chamber, Thune may be referred to as the junior Senator from South Dakota but what do the producers at MSNBC or Fox News care?
It seems his dashing James Bond-esque looks haven't gone unnoticed by ardent fans either. You can find on YouTube compilations of the hunky lawmaker playing basketball in gym wear and conquering press events in style here.
Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Democrat of South Dakota
The lone Democrat on the top five list of attractive lawmakers, this South Dakota congresswoman was a lawyer before joining the public sector.
Apparently her charming good looks, weren't formidable enough to keep her job. Herseth Sandlin lost her House seat in 2010, like a number of fellow Democrats.
At least, after she lost reelection, she scored an exit interview with PBS News Hour for a chat about the winnowing out of Congress's moderate politicians.
Representative Connie Mack, Republican of Florida
This Florida Republican has a chiseled jaw and he knows how to use it.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia Well, what can we say? No study is perfect. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it seems odd that the study's respondents identified this Georgia statesmen as a particularly attractive man.
Regardless, he's certainly benefited from media coverage on Fox News with repeated appearances on Chris Wallace's Sunday show between 2008 and 2011. Are we missing something about this man's sex appeal?