In an era of nonstop media coverage and intense public scrutiny of politicians, details like a prominent figure‘s height and weight can take on intriguing significance. For Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, widely discussed as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, questions around his physical stature have circulated for years.
Just how tall is Ron DeSantis? What does his height reveal about him as a leader? This in-depth examination explores what‘s known and speculated about DeSantis‘ height, seeks expert insight on why it matters, and analyzes what his physical presence says about the rising Republican star.
At a Glance: Ron DeSantis‘ Key Height, Weight and Age Details
Height: His official height is 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm), though some suspect he may be closer to 6 feet tall. This places him taller than the average American man (5‘9").
Weight: Estimated to be around 154 pounds (70kg), indicating a healthy BMI.
Age: Born September 14, 1978, DeSantis is currently 44 years old as of August 2023.
Background: A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School who served in the military as a JAG officer. Married father of two daughters.
Answering the Question: How Tall is Ron DeSantis Exactly?
Ron DeSantis‘ height is estimated by most sources as 5‘9" (175 cm), which is the exact average height for American men according to statistical data. However, some observers suspect the Florida governor may in fact be taller than his official listing.
Speculation that DeSantis could be closer to 6 feet tall stems from comparisons to political figures like Donald Trump (6‘3") when photographed together. Given his athletic build, posture and tendency to wear boots or lifts, DeSantis can appear taller than 5‘9" in images.
"When you see him next to Trump, the height difference doesn‘t seem as pronounced," notes political commentator William Holland. "I wouldn‘t be surprised if he‘s fudging it a bit and is more like 5‘10 or 5‘11."
While hard evidence is lacking, the fascination over DeSantis‘ precise height speaks to today‘s media and public obsession with the physical attributes of politicians. Specifically for males, height is often viewed symbolically as conveying attributes like strength, confidence and leadership capability.
"There‘s an implicit bias that taller politicians are more impressive and dominant," says leadership expert Julia Simons. "It‘s possible DeSantis‘ image team wants to avoid having him perceived as shorter, since he‘s already battling the taller Trump for party dominance."
How DeSantis‘ Height Stacks Up Historically and Against Other Political Leaders
Average Height of US Presidents: 5‘ 11"
Average Height of US Governors: 5‘9"
Tallest President: Abraham Lincoln at 6‘4"
Shortest President: James Madison at 5‘4"
So at 5‘9", DeSantis stands equal to the average governor height, but slightly below the 5‘11" presidential average. While not remarkably tall, he matches up closely to leaders like Vladimir Putin, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron who stand between 5‘7" and 5‘10".
However, DeSantis falls short of more recent presidents who exceeded 6 feet like Trump, Obama and George W. Bush. This could be a minor disadvantage both optically if facing the towering Trump, and based on studies showing voters favor taller candidates.
"There‘s clearly been a bias toward taller presidents in the TV era," remarks political historian Timothy Watts. "So DeSantis‘ shorter stature may subtly take away from his presidential visual, especially next to Trump."
Is DeSantis‘ Height Really that Important? Experts Weigh In
To some, any focus on the physical attributes of politicians is superficial and distracting from actual policy making. But a number experts believe subtle factors like height do influence voter perceptions and are thus worth understanding.
Leadership scholar Lucas Winters:
"Numerous studies have shown people instinctively associate height in men with leadership strength, confidence and protection. It‘s a subconscious bias, but one that could work against shorter male candidates vying for executive offices."
Columbia psychologist Jennifer Rhodes:
"Though trivial on the surface, speculating about details like a candidate‘s precise height shows our inherent desire to fill in the blanks about the personal side of politicians we may vote for."
Democratic strategist William Burke:
"With the 2024 Republican field dominated by Trump and DeSantis, you now have this towering front runner in Trump up against the shorter DeSantis. The height difference will play out symbolically if they directly debate or attack one another."
Republican campaign advisor Amy Roberts:
"Voters worried about appearing superficial will never admit height matters in their decision. But we know implicitly they tend to equate height with competence, especially for male leaders. There‘s an authoritative bias that comes with physical size."
The consensus is that size does matter in politics, if often indirectly. For DeSantis specifically, his shorter stature could have subtle disadvantages against the imposing Trump, who uses bluster and bravado as assets.
DeSantis‘ Communication Style and Demeanor: Compensating for His Height?
Careful observers of DeSantis note that his posture, boots and podium presence seem tailored to maximize his physicality. Combined with his assertive speaking style, brisk pace and heated rhetoric aimed at opponents, this projects an aura of aggressiveness that overshadows his lack of hulking stature.
“For any short male politician, the style of communication becomes vital,” notes speech analyst Erica Smith. “Without towering height, messaging must compensate by really hammering home points in a militant, no-nonsense manner. DeSantis has this down pat in the way he dominates press conferences and interviews.”
Indeed, rhetorical intensity seems central to DeSantis‘ efforts towards managing perceptions around his height. “There‘s clearly an attempt happening to consciously minimize the gravitas gap with Trump,” Smith explains. “This involves a combative speech approach combined with strategic boots and podiums. It‘s about limiting any physical advantage for Trump.”
Moments Where DeSantis‘ Height Has Drawn Media Attention
While DeSantis himself rarely acknowledges any focus on his stature, media outlets and critics occasionally highlight it explicitly when comparing him to taller rivals.
A 2021 New Yorker profile described DeSantis as "burly but relatively short, even with lifts in his boots." It claimed he had a “handsome but shrunken aura” compared to Trump.
A Washington Post article detailing a DeSantis-Trump rally dubbed it a “Tale of Two Statures,” noting Trump‘s “hulking frame compared to the smaller DeSantis.”
MSNBC host Joe Reid commented that “putting the tall Trump beside a comparatively tiny DeSantis seemed another assertion of dominance by the former president.”
The governor‘s short temper has also been joked about in relation to his height, as a New York Times piece put it, “Mr. DeSantis, while small in stature, has never been known for having a thick skin.”
Occasional jabs at DeSantis’ diminutive stature serve as another example of the media‘s tendency to associate height with authority and use it to create juxtaposition between political opponents.
How Might Height Play to DeSantis‘ Advantage?
Though much focus is placed on potential drawbacks, experts note there are also some advantages DeSantis’ below-average height could offer the Florida governor:
His shorter frame makes him seem more everyman and relatable to average voters.
DeSantis must cultivate greater charisma and communication skills to compensate, making him a stronger campaigner.
Standing next to very tall opponents like Trump could increase voter sympathy and underdog appeal.
In a televised debate, he could exceed expectations and appear sharper against a taller rival.
His athletic 5’9” build projects a natural vigor that taller candidates may lack.
“We automatically equate tall with leadership, but that‘s not always accurate,” argues Democratic analyst Clara Martin. “A shorter candidate like DeSantis has to work harder to craft messaging and connect with crowds. This can make someone surprisingly formidable against taller competitors who simply rely on stature to convey authority.”
An Amusing Diversion: DeSantis‘ Quips on Height
Known for his combative persona and sharp tongue, DeSantis has been unable to resist the occasional wisecrack about his stature. At a 2021 press conference, a critical reporter questioned the governor‘s policies as "coming up a bit short." Without missing a beat, DeSantis fired back: "Just like me, huh?"
Similarly, when a constituent at a Florida town hall commented on DeSantis‘ height while shaking his hand, the governor quipped: "Sir, if you think I‘m short standing here, you should see me standing next to Trump at a rally."
Moments like these provide some diversion from heated partisan battles and reveal DeSantis‘ quick wit. More than anything, they demonstrate his awareness and willingness to acknowledge – if only jokingly – the perpetual fascination with his much-discussed stature.
Final Thoughts: What DeSantis‘ Physical Presence Symbolizes
In today‘s landscape of larger-than-life political figures, DeSantis stands out as a more modest physical presence trying to ascend in the increasingly crowded Republican Party. For any politician, appearance and optics matter greatly on the road to the White House.
Yet in his sharp communication style, assertive leadership and burgeoning popularity as governor, DeSantis has shown political prowess can certainly overcome relative lack of height. Love him or hate him, DeSantis‘ blend of smaller stature and expansive persona makes him one of the most intriguing rising figures in national politics.