Words that Shape and/or Shaped Elections

For Better and Worse!

Since 1960, almost every presidential election, in retrospect, was determined around a theme or idea that could be described in two or three words.

Usually that theme was established by the winning campaign, but sometimes – as with Mitt Romney’s 2012 remark that 47 percent of people are “dependent” on government and would never vote for him – candidates commit political suicide with a gaffe or slip-up that reveals an underlying truth that voters already suspected.

A quick review:

  • 1960 – New Generation
  • 1964 – The Kennedy Legacy
  • 1968 – Law and Order
  • 1972 – Watergate Break-in
  • 1976 – I’ll Never Lie to You
  • 1980 – Misery Index
  • 1984 – Morning in America
  • 1988 – Hat in a TANK
  • 1992 – New Covenant
  • 1996 – Bridge to the 21st Century
  • 2000 – Compassionate Conservatism
  • 2004 – War on Terror
  • 2008 – Hope and Change
  • 2012 – 47 Percent
  • 2016 – Deplorables

It’s hard to know, given the bountiful options, what history will record as the keywords of 2020. Here is a short list of possibilities:

  • Losers and Suckers
  • Magically Disappear
  • Very Stable Genius

If, on the other hand, the key phrase of 2020 becomes “law and order” we might be in for a long four, or eight, or 12 more years!

A note: I’m keeping a close eye on polling – both nationally and in key states. Those who are interested can see graphical summary, updated daily and including an Electoral College projection (based on current polling) at http://faw-election2020.s3-website.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/


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