Presidential campaign slogans: winners and losers

For those suffering through withdrawal from political advertising (really?), here’s the cure: a review of presidential campaign slogans.

Are they effective? Who knows?

Like taglines for consumer products and services, most are inane and easily forgotten. A few, however, may have been of strategic value. Here are some examples.

Some campaign slogans attempted to build name awareness:

  • 1840, William Henry Harrison: “Tippecanoe And Tyler Too” (In 1811, Harrison won the battle of Tippecanoe.)
  • 1928, Herbert Hoover: “Hoo but Hoover?”
  • 1948, Harry Truman: “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry”
  • 1952, Dwight Eisenhower: “I Like Ike”
  • 1964, Lyndon Johnson: “All The Way With LBJ”
  • 1964, Barry Goldwater: “AuH2O”
  • 1968, Richard Nixon: “Nixon’s The One”
  • 1992, Ross Perot: “Ross For Boss”

Some belittled opponents:

  • 1844, Henry Clay: “Who Is James K. Polk?”
  • 1884, James Blaine: “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?” (Blaine’s opponent, Grover Cleveland, reportedly fathered an illegitimate child. After winning the election, Cleveland responded, “Gone To The White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!”)
  • 1920, Warren G. Harding: “Cox And Cocktails” (Harding’s opponent, James Cox, opposed prohibition.)
  • 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Sunflowers Die In November” (Roosevelt’s opponent was Alf Landon from Kansas, where the state flower is the sunflower.)
  • 1940, Wendell Wilkie: “Roosevelt For Ex-President”
  • 1976, Gerald Ford: “Don’t Settle For Peanuts” (Ford’s opponent was Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia.)
  • 1984, Walter Mondale: “Where’s The Beef?” (He was referring to primary opponent Gary Hart.)

Some made promises:

  • 1860, Abraham Lincoln: “Vote Yourself A Farm”
  • 1900, William McKinley: “Four More Years Of The Full Dinner Pail”
  • 1928, Herbert Hoover: “A Chicken In Every Pot And A Car In Every Garage”
  • 1992, George H.W. Bush: “Read My Lips, No New Taxes”
  • 2000, Al Gore: “Prosperity For America’s Families”
  • 2000, George W. Bush: “Leave No Child Behind”

Some called for change:

  • 1964, Barry Goldwater: “A Choice, Not An Echo”
  • 1976, Jimmy Carter: “A Leader, For A Change”
  • 1980, Ronald Reagan: “Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?”
  • 1984, Walter Mondale: “America Needs A Change”
  • 1996, Bob Dole: “The Better Man For A Better America”
  • 2008, Barack Obama: “Change We Need”

Others recommended staying the course:

  • 1864, Abraham Lincoln: “Don’t Swap Horses In Midstream”
  • 1916, Woodrow Wilson: “He Kept Us Out Of War” (The United States entered World War I after Wilson was reelected.)
  • 1924, Calvin Coolidge: “Keep Cool With Coolidge”
  • 1984, Ronald Reagan: “It’s Morning Again In America”
  • 2012, Barack Obama: “Forward”

Some promised a better future:

  • 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Happy Days Are Here Again”
  • 1960, John F. Kennedy: “We Can Do Better”
  • 1992, Bill Clinton: “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”
  • 1996, Bill Clinton: “Building A Bridge To The 21st Century”
  • 2008, Barack Obama: “Hope”

Others attempted to scare:

  • 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson: “The Stakes Are Too High For You To Stay At Home”
  • 1968, Richard Nixon: “This Time, Vote Like Your Whole World Depended On It”
  • 2000, Ralph Nader: “Government Of, By, And For The People … Not The Monied Interests”

Some advanced an ideology:

  • 1988, George H.W. Bush: “Kinder, Gentler Nation”
  • 2000, George W. Bush: “Compassionate Conservatism”
  • 2000, George W. Bush: “Reformer With Results”
  • 2008, John McCain: “Country First”
  • 2008, John McCain: “Drill, Baby, Drill!”

Perhaps the most bipartisan slogan ever was expressed by presidential candidate Horace Greeley in 1872: “Throw The Rascals Out.”

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