Day: August 9, 2019

The History of Political Bumper Stickers

Developed shortly after World War II, bumper stickers have been constant sites on American roadways since that time. One use for bumper stickers for political campaigns. We saw it in the last presidential election for sure, and even lesser elections promote their candidates with bumper stickers. Call them “pieces of flair” for your car – but with a political message.

It is interesting to look at some political stickers through the years. It is not entirely accurate to say that the quality of bumper sticker determines the outcome of a presidential campaign (because that would be crazy!), we will let you draw your own assumptions. It might be true that good bumper sticker doesn’t hurt.

The 1964 presidential election was a political showdown between Lyndon B. Johnson (with running mate Hubert Humphrey) on the Democrat side, and Barry Goldwater (with running mate William Miller) on the Republican side. Johnson beat Goldwater by a good margin. Johnson received 486 electoral votes to Goldwater’s 52, and he carried 44 states (plus Washington, D.C.) to Goldwater’s 6. Just in case you’re concerned about popular vote, Johnson kind of swept that, too – winning 61.1% of the popular vote.

There are pros and cons to both of these bumper stickers. Goldwater does a good thing by putting his picture on his – no matter what your mug looks like you want voters to know the faces of the guys they have to vote for. LBJ does a good thing by putting a rhyming slogan on his bumper sticker. “LBJ for the USA” has a nice ring to it. They both use kind of icky colors, but color matching wasn’t invented yet, so we cannot be sure that these photos properly depict the actual shade of these pieces of political schwag. The orangey-red is much more appealing than the goldish green, no matter which way you cut it.

The 1984 presidential election came down to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush versus Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. The statistics for the election were similar in proportion to the 1964 election. Reagan-Bush received 525 electoral votes to Mondale-Ferraro’s 13, carried 49 states to the opposition’s 1 (plus Washington, D.C.), and won 58.8% of the popular vote.

This was a ground-breaking election in that Geraldine Ferraro was the first female to run for Vice President. Bumper sticker-wise, they were pretty cut-and-dry.

Obviously, it is easier to read the Reagan-Bush sticker. White text on a red background is hard to see from a car on the highway. Also, Reagan and Bush’s names are on the same level on their bumper sticker, while Mondale’s name appears above Ferraro’s on their bumper sticker. Sheer coincidence, or a strategic ploy to undermine Ferraro’s role in the campaign? Probably the former, but we love a good conspiracy theory.

The 2008 presidential election was a little closer than the previous two, but since it was the most recent it is worth mentioning. This election came down to the now-President Barack Obama (with running …