With the Republican presidential primaries in full swing and preceding an announcement from President Biden (as of publication), even Santa is thinking of cashing in on the personalization-of-everything craze by bringing you a presidential candidate that you get to customize according to your own biases needs. No more blaming Iowa for the bad choices you’ve made in life.


Imagine unleashing Republicans and Democrats into a mall with a new branch of Build-a-President with the remit 1) not to make out in the movie theater and 2) select the qualities of their preferred presidential candidate. Let’s hope the worst-case scenario is that everyone comes home smelling like an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Best case? The candidates aren't former celebrities and have normal-sized hands.


To play out this thought experiment (and force one of our colleagues to relive his dissertation), we designed a conjoint analysis to find out what Americans from both major political parties want in their next presidential candidate. True to the American spirit of not overthinking anything, voters—irrespective of party—prefer a candidate that is half substance and half aesthetics. What is this, France?



The primary difference in substance that will galvanize Democratic voters is protecting a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, which accounts for 25% of their candidate’s campaign focus. For Republicans, reducing inflation accounts for 31%—although Democrats will rally behind this, too, at 22%.



Democrats are also yearning for a candidate who is younger, less white, and less male. Does anyone know if the presumed Democratic candidate is aware of this?



Republicans are locked and loaded to nominate a white, male, middle-aged GI Joe, but not of the (even older) Biden variety.

Let’s hope that voters weigh campaign platforms and candidate’s characteristics in the next presidential election more seriously than deciding between a tie-dye bandana or cowboy hat for their president.