stature gap
n. In politics, the perceived difference in status between two candidates based on their achievements and experience.

Example Citation:
"There's been a lot of talk about the 'stature gap' between Gore and Bush. The vice presidential debate seemed to show that the stature gap is with their own running mates, as Dick Cheney did what Bush didn't — explain their agenda — and Joe Lieberman showed the style Gore lacks."
—Mary Beth Schneider, "Candy bar ad makes point, brings snicker," The Indianapolis Star, October 8, 2000

The term "stature gap" first appeared (in print, anyway) during the run-up to the 1988 U.S. presidential election. Here's the first citation I could find:

"The good news for the Democrats is that their stature gap won't be permanent. Sometime between now and the party's convention in Atlanta in July of 1988, a candidate of moreorless presidential size is certain to materialize."
—Paul Taylor, The Washington Post, May 24, 1987

Boy was that guy ever wrong! (The forgettable Michael Dukakis was the eventual Democratic nominee.) Speaking of wrong predictions (hindsight can be so much fun), here's another one:

"Clinton strikes party pros as having the most potential. But his boyish appearance — at 45, he looks a little bit like a young Mickey Rooney on steroids — and lack of diplomatic credentials have Republicans chuckling about a '92 'stature gap' with George Bush."
—Lee Walczak, Business Week, September 9, 1991

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