Barack Obama has made a political promise that will leave him in the doghouse if he ever breaks it: He has promised to get his two daughters a dog once the election is over.
Besides keeping the kids happy, getting a pooch could be a smart political move. “Dogs are always good political symbols,” says Don Rose, a Chicago-based political consultant. So for maximum effect, maybe he should make his choice early and announce it. But what kind?
If it’s the popular vote that Obama’s after, the mutt is America’s favorite dog. Of the 158 pure breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), Labrador retrievers are the nation’s most popular—followed by Yorkshire terriers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.
But if he wants a boost in one of those important battleground states, he might get a bulldog—popular in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, three cities that are key to winning Ohio. (The AKC ranks by city, not by state.)
If it’s hunters and working-class voters he’s after, he should choose a pooch of the working variety, say a Bernese mountain dog or a Saint Bernard, or a dog from the hound category, which are traditional hunting dogs. Even a terrier would suffice—its ancestors were bred to hunt vermin.
Long considered “women’s pets,” breeds from the toy variety, such as pugs, poodles, and Pomeranians, might be a good way to attract Hillary Clinton’s former supporters. Besides, Chihuahuas are popular in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, three large cities in the Mother of All Battleground States: Florida.
Ultimately, though, the choice will most likely come down to Obama’s most important constituents: his daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6.
Photography: (The Obamas) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, (retriever) © Erik Lam/istockphoto.com, (bulldog) © Juan Monino/istockphoto.com, (chihuahua) © Yanik Chauvin/istockphoto.com