Behold, it is a great mystery. So saith Joseph Nye, Jr. in an op-ed today, analyzing the Obama phenomenon in particular while barely naming names. After asking whether "charisma originate[s] in the individual, in the followers, or in the situation," he explores some research behind it.
First: "Charisma proves surprisingly hard to identify in advance" - because, according to political consultant Dick Morris, it doesn't actually exist. It may be evanescent depending on the success of a given *charismatic* individual. As a result of this non-existence, so to speak, "charisma scales that predict votes...have not proven fruitful." In addition, it is often used after-the-fact. Proverbial nonexistence can lead to more unfortunate consequences: "In practice, the word charisma is a vague synonym for 'personal magnetism'" (emphasis added).
In the end, says Nye, it's all in the nonverbal communication. This *unscientific* (non-measurable, non-predictable) phenomenon of charisma may have more effect in elections than other, *scientific*, factors such as the strength of the economy. What does this mean? Answer: Science isn't everything.