A 2011 Canadian study also showed that people prefer political candidates with lower-pitched voices. That study used archival recordings of nine U.S. presidents going back to Harry Truman, and then manipulated the voices to create higher- and lower-pitched versions. Researchers then played the two versions for study subjects who were asked to rate them for qualities like trustworthiness, leadership and intelligence. The lower-pitched recordings got the highest ratings. According to a BBC report, Margaret Thatcher got vocal coaching to lower the pitch of her voice.
Not doing that herself was one of Sarah Palin’s biggest mistakes. I liked most of what she had to say, but her voice grated even on me, and most people probably couldn’t get past it (particularly combined with the accent, though that was less of a problem, at least for me).
[Update a while later]
Ruth Dudley Edwards remembers the Iron Lady:
A 1977 poll revealed that 54 per cent of British people thought Jack Jones, the head of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, was more powerful than Prime Minister Callaghan, who had Jones made a Companion of Honour, an elite order restricted to people with outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion. Jones deserves much of the credit for what became known as the “winter of discontent”, when bodies lay unburied, rats frolicked in uncollected rubbish and almost 30 million days were lost through strikes. I was not surprised when it emerged years later that he was selling Labour Party secrets to the Soviet Union.
I’m ashamed that – knowing what I knew – I didn’t vote for Mrs Thatcher in 1979, but my loathing of capital punishment led me to vote Liberal instead. Still, when I saw her on the steps of Downing Street, the day that coincidentally I changed career, I was delighted.
When I socialised next with senior ex-colleagues, they were in shock at having been instructed to read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and think about how to free the market. It took a while, but the ablest and bravest of them became enthused by a prime minister who had a clear vision, mastered the briefs, debated robustly, won the debates fair and square, was a kind boss (unless you were a defeatist minister) and always took the public flak for difficult decisions.
As one of her cabinet secretaries put it, “she made us positive about the revitalisation of the British economy”. By the time she left office after 11 years, the UK economy was an inspiration to much of the world. She had also been a major and constructive player on the world stage, the Falklands victory over a malign dictatorship had made the UK respected again, she had revolutionised the status of women and had wrought a transformation even in the Labour Party.
She forgot, though, the part about how she, along with Reagan and the Pope, killed the USSR.