File under interesting.

The written word has been used to communicate since its inception. Words can be used to persuade us in one direction or the other. In the context of politics, typography plays a role as well as the message. It’s about how the message is presented. So let’s talk about typography in a moment of contemporary politics. My theory is in contemporary politics that sans serif fonts are simply more powerful and fresh as opposed to serif fonts.

In 2000 there was a highly contested election between Bush and Gore. Here is was their typography usage.

In 2004 Bush was re-elected over Kerry and here’s their typography usage.

I’m seeing a pattern. How about you? Notice (despite your preference) the sans always wins. Is it just coincidence?

“A typical Kerry logo displays the same inconsistency that his opponents accuse him of. A steady visual message requires the consistent use of the same font over and over again. On a typical drive to work, I encounter no fewer than five typefaces used in as many different Kerry-Edwards logos. One is stretched out; another is condensed. One looks masculine; one looks feminine. In contrast to Mr. Bush’s aggressive sans-serif font,Senator John Kerry’s multitudinous font choices center on the use of thin, delicate-looking, “girlie-man” type. No wonder some voters think he’s a vacillating wimp…In recent weeks, Mr. Kerry has done a better job of getting his verbal message across. But his visual message has already been burned into the electorate’s collective psyche. Even if he wanted to make a change for the better, the money has been spent, the signs have been printed, and the bumper stickers have been stuck. But, John, if you do win in November and decide to run for re-election, give me a call.”

-SCOTT DADICH, New York Times | More>

My Theory Shredded (kinda but not really)

Come any closer and I will use the Obama font on you – Gotham.

Gotham is wider than average text, lending it gravity and solidity. It says, “What I’m saying is special enough to warrant the extra room I require.” Increased legibility comes from this and the large x-height (the height of the lower part of the letter, usually compared to the ascender). More>

It’s both, but more than just serifs, and the winning message “Change We Can Believe In” is sans. In fact, that’s what was more memorable and actually proves my theory. Yes, I do know that McCain used Optima a sans font, but my point is it was weaker than Gotham on top of the fact that the serif used for the Obama logo was much stronger than previous presidential candidates.

Scott Brown uses Gotham (Obama Font) and wins.

I know there are many typophiles that will disagree, but it seems to me that sans is more powerful than serif fonts.

If you’re a designer in politics pay attention to serifs, but pay more attention to sans. Because your candidate’s political life may depend on it.