Make America, HOPE, Together We Can, I like Ike, what do all these snippets of words have in common?
They’re not a part of some strange coded sentence. They’re each political slogans that candidates used in presidential races in the United States.
Some of them were still talking about, almost seventy years later and some we’ve never heard. What makes one successful and the other not?
Obviously, the candidate has something to do with it, but we can’t speak to that.
Let’s learn some memorable and downright strange slogans from history below.
1. “I Like Ike”
When Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for president in 1952 and again in 1956 he used the slogan “I like Ike”. The second time around he went for the much different “I still like Ike”.
What made this work? It’s quick and cute. It’s easy to say, to chant, and to put on buttons. Hey, everyone loves buttons!
It works because it’s simple and it humanizes the candidate. Ike was the childhood nickname of Dwight D. Isenhower. What’s more relatable than a child?
Also, it was easier to spell than his last name, which people spelled incorrectly when they wrote him in as a choice in the Primaries.
All around, Ike hit the nail on the head!
2. “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too”
Let’s talk about a strange one, now that we’ve got a success to open us up. What the heck does William Henry Harrison’s slogan from 1840 mean?
The Tyler part is easy to figure out, as his running mate’s name was John Tyler. But what about a canoe?
The would-be 9th president of the United States came from a military background. In 1840, Military meant fighting against the Native Americans.
One such battle was the Battle of Tippecanoe, which he won. This was a big deal at the time, big enough to seat his whole campaign on!
3. “It’s the Economy, Stupid”
If you expected this post to go in chronological order, we’re sorry. This slogan from Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidency was legendary.
It still is! What other presidential candidate would dare to use the word Stupid in their slogan?
One with a plan and some think, a female mind behind the whole campaign process.
As his presidency went on, turns out his familiar language translated to him getting familiar in the White House. Guess voters should have paid attention to his slogan!
4. “It’s Morning Again in America”
Within the same 10 years as Bill Clinton’s slogan, Ronald Reagan used this very poetic sentiment.
To the voters who didn’t know where to turn after some crises and the idea that America was falling apart, it gave them hope.
It’s morning again gives the same sentiment as “make America Great Again”. It suggests that we’ve strayed from something that was once great, but with their leadership, we can return.
It worked for Reagan and it’s interesting to see this sentiment echoed 30 years later in Trump’s campaign. Was that on purpose? Was it a coincidence? At this point, we don’t know.
5. “Don’t Swap Horses in the Middle of the Stream”
What the heck does this one mean? Is this more of equestrian advice than the wise words of the man who canceled slavery?
For the answer to that, you’d have to find the ghost of Abraham Lincoln who used this as his slogan in 1864.
This very antique sounding saying actually has a very politically related meaning. He’s asking voters to get on board (on a horse) with his campaign before it’s too late, or they’re “mid-stream”.
If you don’t remember from grade school, Lincoln was from a log cabin in the woods. We see that reflected in his wilderness related slogan!
6. “Keep Cool with Coolidge”
Can you guess which president this slogan was for? We’ll give you a hint, it’s a pretty clever play on words.
This slogan from Calvin Coolidge’s 1924 campaign. The silly and fun feel to it worked since things still looked happy before the Great Depression.
He was the president for some time during the “roaring twenties” which saw things like Jazz music and Flappers.
Many people blame his presidency for the stock market crash that happened less than a year after he left office.
7. “Vote as You Shot”
This very violent slogan is attributed to someone you definitely know, but probably forgot was president. It was the slogan of no other than Mr. Ulysses S. Grant in 1868.
Three years after his side won the Civil War and the country remained united, he seemed like a strange choice for president.
The country was looking for someone to help them with reconstruction and to calm tensions with the South. Who better than a general who had killed southern soldiers at his own command?
All we can say is that he did vote as he shot, which is to say he thought of America as one country – not two broken halves.
8. “Cox and Cocktails”
Can we just say that we’d love to live in a time where a presidential candidates slogan included references to alcoholic beverages?
What a cool time that was. Mr. Warren G. Harding really won our (almost 100 years later) hearts with his 1920 slogan.
The genius of his slogan was that he was running against Candidate James Cox, who ran on an anti-prohibition platform.
Was it smart of him to give his opposition a free boost of publicity with his slogan? Apparently so. The pro-prohibition Harding served from 1921-1923 in the Oval Office.
9. “Who But Hoover?”
This time around, Herbert Hoover was running for president in quite an unstable time. You’d think he’d go for a less “cutesy” and rhyming slogan than he did.
But the president of the Great Depression did get elected in March of 1929. Other slogans he ran with included “A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage”, which didn’t so much work out.
The great depression started in the seventh month of his presidency.
10. “All the Way with LBJ”
Sorry for those who were getting used to the 1920’s slogan section, we’re skipping up to 1964. That’s when Linden B. Johnson’s campaign used the clever slogan, “All the Way with LBJ”.
Not only is the slogan a clever use of his initials, but it has the goal of the campaign in the text of the slogan. All the way – as in the oval office.
Very smart, which is probably why we’re talking about it fifty-some years later.
11. “Let Well Enough Alone”
Jumping back in time sixty years, we have William Mckinley’s slogan, which asks us to . . . leave him alone?
No, that’s not what it meant, but it’s easy to see how it could come off as stand-offish. This was the slogan for his second term, which he felt very comfortable winning.
He had just led the country to victory in the Spanish American war and nothing goes better for a candidate than coming off of a big win.
He took his winning streak to his re-election, though legend says he didn’t put much effort into that campaign. He was assassinated a year after he was re-elected.
12. “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?”
Everyone on this list got elected with their slogan, whether it was a lyrical win or not. James G. Blaine ran for president and lost to Grover Cleveland in 1884.
We had to include his slogan because it’s so strange. It sounds more like something a child would say than a political choice.
That’s the point actually, as Blaine was, as the kids say, throwing shade. Grover Cleveland had a child out of wedlock and the story surfaced during the race.
This was Blaine’s attempt at an attack ad. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work and Cleveland’s supporters took up the chant adding, “… went to the White House, ha ha ha!”
19th Century Humor is strange, don’t you think?
13. “A Change We Can Believe In” (Yes We Can)
To end the list, we’ll talk about one very successful president, Barack Obama. Though there was a lot of controversy surrounding him running, it turned out well for him and his supporters.
His simple promise of change and rallying people’s feelings won him the 2008 presidency. Then, he was able to carry that momentum on four years later for a second term.
With his example, we see short and catchy slogans succeeding again. No, it’s not as cute as “I like Ike” but it did the job.
Political Slogans: The Key to Success
If you’re running for president or are reading this for your poli-sci research paper, one thing’s for sure. The shorter and catchier the political slogans, the better people remember them.
If you choose to run one day, don’t forget this little article that taught you what you need to know. And stay away from calling out your opponent, like James Blaine, unless you’re really sure you’ll win!
For more funny and totally quote-able lists, check out our quotes page. You won’t regret it!