One of the more arresting features of this political season is the narrowing of the gender gap. You’d think handsome John Edwards would help stem the tide for John Kerry. But you’d probably be wrong.

At least that’s what Steven Rhoads, author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously, argues. According to Rhoads, Edwards, a genuine sensitive guy–unless you’re opposing counsel or the defendant–is only making things worse for John Kerry when it comes to the women’s vote. Seems there’s a testosterone deficit:

“There are different kinds of good-looking men,” writes Rhoads, “– say Leonardo DiCaprio at one pole and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the other. Some evidence suggests that voters like candidates for national office who appear as happy warriors — those who simultaneously seem upbeat and reassuring. In an election that hinges on terrorism, reassurance is especially important.

“Edwards is a classic ’I-feel-your-pain’ Democrat. But women already grant Democrats the ’I-feel-your-pain’ issue. This year, they want to know whether the Democrats are tough enough to keep their families safe.”