There's the curse of the Bambino. The curse of the Hope Diamond. And now, maybe, there's the curse of The Hill newspaper's annual "50 Most Beautiful" list.
Of the 59 members of Congress who have appeared on the list from 2004 through 2012, 37 percent eventually lost reelection, failed in a campaign for higher office, retired, or resigned in scandal.
So says political scientist Eric Ostermeier, a research associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, in his blog, Smart Politics.
"Unfortunately, for many, it's all downhill," Ostermeier wrote.
Among the folks on the list are former Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and John Edwards, D-N.C., and former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D. Looking ahead to the 2014 cycle, at least one other "Most Beautiful" honoree from Congress--Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.--has already announced she is not running for reelection, Ostermeier notes.
Of course, whether this pattern is really unnatural is debatable. The rate of downfall for those on The Hill's list may not exceed the rate for all of Congress. Yet it is interesting--if not fun--to see what misery can occur to the beautiful people.
"I first thought to crunch the [numbers] on these lists because the honorees are sort of presented as not just 'beautiful' but also 'up-and-comers' and soon to be big shots on the Hill," Ostermeier told National Journal Daily.
"So when a fair number of these officeholders started losing elections, in 2010 and 2012 especially, that drew my attention. That, and the fact that a handful of these 'beautiful' people have been involved in scandals in or out of office," Ostermeier added, referring to Edwards, Jackson, former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and former Rep. Vito Fosella, R-N.Y.
In all, he found 10 lawmakers lost reelection bids; five were defeated seeking higher public office; two resigned in scandal; and five retired from public life.
Ostermeier is known to pick up odd and interesting trends in politics. His research earlier this year included an examination of the causes of death for the thousands of people who have served in Congress over the last 200 years or so. Among his findings: Nearly two dozen have been killed by or on trains.
But his latest research does not necessarily spell doom for the lawmakers in The Hill's list, people like Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas. Because fully 37 of the 59 lawmakers Ostermeier looked at are still holding office.
Among them are Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. And President Obama, too.
This article appears in the August 9, 2013, edition of NJ Daily as Has inclusion on The Hill's "50 Most Beautiful" list become a political curse?.