Paul Ryan shirtless? We're more interested in his widow's peak.

That distinctive downward point in the hairline of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, may be a sign of bigger things to come. Research shows a widow's peak is a plus in politics. It certainly didn't hurt President Reagan.

Mary Altaffer/AP
Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin reacts to audience applause during a campaign event at the Waukesha County Expo Center, Sunday, Aug. 12, in Waukesha, Wis.

Since his unveiling Saturday as Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan has gone from being famous only inside the Beltway – and in his corner of Wisconsin – to being a national curiosity.

How else to explain the fact that the second most-searched term Saturday on Google related to Congressman Ryan, after “vice president,” was “shirtless,” as noted by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post’s “Fix” column. Indeed, aside from his focus on all things budgetary, the youthful Ryan is also known on Capitol Hill for his devotion to physical fitness. And despite the fact that he’s married – happily, by all indications – that hasn’t stopped the return of the “Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan” meme on Tumblr.

But truth be told, we’re more interested in Ryan’s hair – particularly his widow’s peak. Having a full head of hair is always a plus in politics, but the way his hair comes down to a little point in the middle of his forehead (think Eddie Munster) gives him an added bonus. It brings to mind no less a Republican figure than the late President Ronald Reagan, the last inhabitant of the White House to have a pronounced widow’s peak.

For Republicans, ever on the lookout for the next Reagan, this could be a sign.

In fact, a professor at University of California at Irvine did a study in the late 1980s on the facial attributes of politicians, and found that widow’s peaks were “a clear positive” with the public, according to an April piece in the Washington Post’s “Reliable Source” column.

“It was associated with being seen as more competent and with greater integrity,” Shawn Rosenberg, a professor of political science and psychology, told the Post. He couldn’t explain why.

Last year, at a forum at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Ryan referred to his distinctive hairline as he shrugged off talk of his political future, according to the school’s faculty blog.

“When I look in the mirror, I see a broken nose and a widow’s peak,” he said. “I don’t see a future president.”

Wonder if that’s still the case.

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