Print Politics

Obama Outdoes Clinton in Iowa

Change your political printing, change the world.

During Barack Obama's recent stint in Iowa, the theme of the day was “Change We Can Believe In.” Apparently, this was just the right strategy to take with Iowans, because the last week found Obama pulling ahead of Clinton by four points in this pivotal state.

The “Change We Can Believe In” campaign is a point-on case study of how political printing can act as both an engine for ideas, and a reflection of the election climate.

The Iowans who waved the “Change We Can Believe In” signs over the last week believed in what the political printing said. In polls, 55% of voters said they were more interested in 'new direction,' and 'new ideas,' than in 'strong leadership,' and 'experience.' In short, Iowan voters are more interested in what Obama has to say than what established frontrunner Hillary Clinton is offering:

The question is: did the Obama camp's political printing – signs and flyers touting change – swing Iowan voters his way, or did the political printing simply manage to capture the issue that was already on everyone's mind?

Certainly, the label of “new guy” has long been applied to Obama, and has carried with it both negative and positive connotations. The candidate logo critique offered by the New York Times this week called Obama's sunrise O logo “undefined,” the work of an “inexperienced” designer.

These comments are clearly intended as a summary profile of Obama as a Presidential candidate. Whether or not you agree with this perspective, it's interesting to see how the “Change We Can Believe In” campaign has taken this common criticism, and transformed it into the kind of positive that has turned the tide amongst voters.

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Other candidates could take a similar approach with their political printing. For example, candidates as diverse as Mike Gravel and Mitt Romney have been accused of print designs ranging from amateurish to clip-art-esque. These candidates could turn this design minus into a political plus by saying their down-home designs reflect their honesty and transparency. They're keeping it real, by not dazzling voters with a lot of slick, flashy printing.

One of the cornerstones of successful campaigns, political or otherwise, is to know how to take negatives and turn them into major pluses. If you know how to put the right spin on your political printing, anything is possible.

The above photo comes from the official Barack Obama flickr account, found in the ” Barack in Fort Dodge, IA 11/19/07″ photo set.


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