UPDATE: If you are interested in learning the IQs and SAT scores of recent Presidents and candidates (and who isn't), I discuss them on pp. 127-130 of my new book, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of Race and Inheritance, which you can read online here:
Now back to my specific posting on John McCain:
When John McCain was released by the North Vietnamese in 1973, he began to participate in a series of psychiatric and medical exams by U.S. doctors, the American Ex-Prisoners of War study, that went on for two decades. In late 1999, he let several news organizations paw through a big stack of his records from this project (with some parts redacted, which apparently referred to his first marriage).
Does anybody know if these (and other military) records of McCain's are online anywhere? The news reports from 1999 make it sound like he just let some of his (favorite?) reporters read through them to summarize, rather than release them to the public.
In 2004, John Kerry posted a whole bunch of his military papers online, from which I was able to figure out how his performance on his military officer aptitude test compared to George W. Bush's on a similar test: a little lower (just as Kerry's GPA at Yale was revealed, after the election, to be slightly lower than Bush's GPA at Yale). Kerry's documents were scanned images of papers, so they weren't Googleable. I didn't find out about Kerry's documents until the fall of 2004, so I imagine it's unlikely that McCain has posted much yet.
The military shrinks gave McCain good marks for mental stability. The main bad-sounding thing that anybody published (other than one embarrassing medical condition) is that he has a "histrionic pattern of personality adjustment" (i.e., he's a big drama queen), but probably anybody who wants to campaign for President is kind of like that.
They tested his IQ twice. I can only find the second (and presumably higher) result. Time wrote in 1999:
Included in the records is a 1984 IQ test. His score, 133, would rank him among the most intelligent Presidents in history.
How exactly Time would know that 133 "would rank him among the most intelligent Presidents in history" is not explained. The only known tested IQ is JFK's (which was in the 115-120 range at prep school). I'd long heard that Nixon scored 143; when I tried to verify it a couple of years ago, I found lots of webpages saying that Nixon's IQ was 143, but all their supporting links pointed to a 1999 article by ... me. And I've forgotten where I got that figure. (I would guess I got it from the late historian Jim Chapin, who would certainly be a reliable source, but I don't know for sure where I got it.)
"The IQs of those who rise to the top are hard to come by, mainly because most such folks are shy about their scores. Not shy was Spiro Agnew, who arranged a luncheon with the editors of Time after the magazine said he was unqualified to be President, and there made the point that his IQ was 130. Nixon biographer Roger Morris says RMN tested at 143 when he was in Fullerton High School in California. Kennedy biographer Thomas C. Reeves tells us JFK tested at 119 just before entering Choate Academy. That last figure looks low. Might there have been some kind of testing error? The ''standard error'' for the Otis test -- the one taken by both future Presidents -- was six IQ points. That means there are two chances out of three that the true IQ is within six points of the reported score. So maybe Jack really was entitled to 125. But then maybe Nixon was worth 149. The only gangster whose IQ we have come across is John Gotti, who weighed in at 110 when tested at Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, an institution in which he did not linger overlong."
All these reports on McCain sound pretty good, but there aren't any records from other POWs to compare them to in order to tell whether the POWs' examining doctors were playing it straight or were accentuating the positive.
Also, IQs are adjusted for age, so a 100 is the average for your age group, with the highest raw scores being attained as a young adult and then a long downward drift that often accelerates past 65 or 70.