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kottke.org posts about 2008 election

Designing Obama online for free

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 31, 2010

Designing Obama, a book chronicling how the visual branding of the Obama campaign came about, is available in several formats, most notably in a completely free online version. Written by the campaign’s design director, the making of the book was funded through the first big Kickstarter campaign.

We Work Remotely

Obama’s speech writer

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 19, 2008

Nice short profile of Jon Favreau, Obama’s 27-year-old speechwriter, and his influences.

And Favreau is right, Gerson’s speech for Bush that September 20 was one of the great speeches in American history. But it must be noted here that with that speech the discord between speech and speaker has never been more pronounced, for we have come to know that Gerson’s boss never fully grasped the power of words. With an exalting script, Gerson could make George W. Bush sound like Winston Churchill for an hour. But it is Jon Favreau’s task and his gift that he is able to make his boss — a fellow who has been known to write a sentence or two on his own — sound like Barack Obama.

What I don’t understand is how Favreau finds the time to write Obama’s speeches *and* direct Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Time machine?

Remnick writing Obama book

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2008

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, is writing a book about Barack Obama, race, and politics in America. The “germ of the book” is a great piece that ran in the magazine shortly after the election called The Joshua Generation.

Designing the Obama logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 11, 2008

Great two-part video interview with Sol Sender about designing the logo for the Obama campaign. Includes some early design sketches and other designs that made it to the final phase. (via quips)

Comprehensive 2008 election round-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2008

Created as a time capsule for future netizens, this gigantic list of reactions, analysis, and opinion surrounding the 2008 US Presidential election is amazing.

I wanted to create something to look at a couple years from now to remember the election and hopefully present a good representation of what both sides of America were feeling on that day as evidenced by the response in the press and on the blogs. I didn’t capture everything, though I’ve certainly tried

Included are lots of videos, links to articles, reactions from the author’s friends, and even Facebook status messages as the election results rolled in, covering a nice cross-section of citizens from top politicians to the big media, to blogs, to normal people celebrating on the streets. However, I have a feeling that due to linkrot, much of this may not even be available online.

The Obama “O” designer

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2008

Steven Heller spoke with the designer Sol Sender about his iconic Obama “O” logo.

Well, the “O” was the identity for the Obama ‘08 campaign and the campaign is over. That doesn’t mean that the mark will be forgotten; I think the memorabilia from this campaign will have a long shelf life and will stand as a visible symbol of pride for people who supported the candidate and for those who see it as a representation of a watershed moment for our country. As far as having another life, I can’t say. Perhaps the 2012 campaign will hark back to it in some way.

Sender’s web site has a bit more info on the development of the Obama brand.

Obama elected by “rich loamy soils” of Cretaceous seas

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2008

The 2008 election voting patterns in the southern United States followed the big cotton production areas in 1860 which in turn followed the shoreline of the shallow tropical seas that covered the southern part of the US 85 million years ago.

This is not a political blog. However, this is a story I couldn’t pass up: the story of how voting patterns in the 2008 election were essentially determined 85 million years ago, in the Cretaceous Period. It’s also a story about how soil science relates to political science, by way of historical chance.

Headline I’d like to see in 96 pt. type in the NY Times: Obama Elected By Rich Loamy Soils of Cretaceous Seas.

Challenged ballots

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2008

The ballots are being recounted in the Senate race in Minnesota between Norm Coleman and Al Franken because the initial tally was almost too close to call. MPR has a look at some of the ballots that are being challenged…it’s amazing how many weird ways people can mark a ballot that uses a simple fill-in-the-circle design.

Obamaland and McCainland

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2008



I think it works much better when it’s all together, don’t you?

Final update to election maps

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2008

I added 16 new maps to the 2008 Election Maps page in what is probably the final update. Big thanks to everyone who sent in maps.

A small audience at the Lincoln Memorial

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2008

When it looked as though Obama was going to win the election, former photojournalist Matt Mendelsohn went to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC expecting to find a huge crowd of celebrants.

I’d spent most of election night in front of the TV in Arlington, Va. But around 11 p.m. I couldn’t sit idle any longer, which is why I sped to the memorial. When I arrived, I found a TV crew sitting on the plaza above the Reflecting Pool, waiting, I assumed, for a mob to arrive. I approached with cameras in hand. One of them looked up and said with a slight roll of his eyes, “Nothing to see here.”

Instead he found a small group of people listening to Obama’s acceptance speech on a transistor radio and shot this wonderful picture of the scene. I can’t think of an image that better characterizes the grass-roots, get-out-the-vote, small-donations-by-millions-of-people aspect of Obama’s campaign. (via 3qd)

Update: Here’s another view of the same scene. (thx, andy)

Obama bits and loose ends

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2008

Flickr is getting slammed right now (I’m getting a lot of “hold your clicks” messages) because of the behind-the-scenes election night photos the Obama campaign put up yesterday. Maybe bookmark and come back in a few hours?

I’ve updated the post about the NY Times’ use of 96-pt type for their Obama headline. They’ve used the big type at least one additional time, on 1/1/2000.

Kristen Borchardt made an awesome video that takes a number of Nov 5th newspaper front pages and animates through them using each papers’ Obama photo as the focal point…very much like YTMND’s Paris Hilton doesn’t change facial expressions.

Obama photo mosaics.

I’ve also updated the election headlines post with a few more collections that popped up.

Hopefully I’ll have some time this afternoon to update the 2008 Election Maps page; I’ve got lots of good submissions waiting in my inbox. Thanks to everyone who sent in links and screenshots.

Idea for the Obama administration: fireside chats. On the radio, on satellite radio, as a podcast, transcripts available online soon after airing. Done live if possible, a genuine lightly scripted chat. Maybe Obama could have special guests on to talk about different aspects of policy and government. Bush does weekly radio addresses but they’re short, boring, and scripted.

Newsweek has posted the rest of their seven-part piece on the 2008 election: part four, part five, part six, part seven. I wrote about the first three installments yesterday.

More related stuff on kottke.org: the barackobama, 2008election, and politics tags.

And I gotta tell you, if change.gov is indicative of how the Obama administration is going to use the web to engage with Americans, this is going to be an interesting four years.

Ok, that’s probably the last Obama post for a bit. Back to your irregularly unscheduled programming.

Newsweek’s in-depth report on the 2008 election

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2008

If you followed or were at all interested in the 2008 presidential election, this seven-part series by a group of Newsweek reporters is a must read. The reporters were granted exclusive access to the campaigns of Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton for a year on the condition that they wouldn’t print anything until after the election was over. The series, of which the first three parts are currently up on the Newsweek site, is a fascinating look at how the political process works and contains all manner of salacious political gossip.

Part One: How Obama was persuaded to run and found his campaigning rhythm and his first scuffles with the Clinton campaign.

In some ways, running for president was a preposterous idea for someone who had served as a two-term state legislator and had spent only two years in the United States Senate. But Obama, a careful student of his own unique journey, could see the stars coming into alignment-the country was exhausted by the Iraq War (which he, alone among leading candidates, had opposed as “dumb” from the outset). As Obama saw it, the conservative tide in America was ebbing, and voters were turning away from the Republican Party. People were sick of politicians of the standard variety and yearned for someone new-truly new and different. Another politician with a superb sense of timing, Bill Clinton, perfectly understood why Obama saw a golden, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. The former president believed that the mainstream press, whose liberal guilt Clinton understood and had exploited from time to time, would act as Obama’s personal chauffeur on the long journey ahead. “If somebody pulled up a Rolls-Royce to me and said, ‘Get in’,” Clinton liked to say, with admiration and maybe a little envy, “I’d get in it, too.”

Part Two: John McCain’s campaign gets off to a terrible start and then suddenly recovers.

Along about Thanksgiving, reporters began to notice a change. The size of the crowds was increasing, and McCain began to creep up in the polls, especially in New Hampshire. He was blessed by the quality of his opponents. In the grim days of summer, when a NEWSWEEK reporter had asked why he shouldn’t join the rest of the press corps in reading the last rites for McCain’s presidential aspirations, Rick Davis had responded with an incongruously cheerful smile. Nothing personal, he said; our opponents are all good men, some of them are my friends-but politically speaking? “Look, at the end of the day,” he said, “the rest of these guys suck.” However crude, his judgment was not off base. Ex-businessman Mitt Romney seemed to treat the campaign as a management-consulting project, as if he were selling a product and trying to increase market share. He had no fingertips as a politician and came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere. Rudy Giuliani seemed to be building a cult of Rudy, constantly talking about his performance on 9/11 to a nation that wanted to forget about the terrorist attacks, and he badly miscalculated by believing that he could wait until the Florida primary in late January to make his move. Former senator Fred Thompson seemed old and half asleep. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas was emerging as an engaging showman and a lively dark horse-but as an evangelical minister with no foreign-policy experience, he almost certainly could not win.

Part Three: The role of the candidates’ spouses, the continuing clashes between the Obama and Clinton campaigns, and Obama’s Star Trek joke.

Obama carefully conserved his energy. He was not a man of appetites, like Bill Clinton, who would grab whatever goodie passed by on the tray. Obama was abstemious. Indeed, to the reporters following him, he appeared very nearly anorexic. Most candidates gain the Campaign 10 (or 15). Hillary was struggling with her waistline, as she gamely knocked back shots and beers in working-class bars and gobbled the obligatory sausage sandwiches thrust at her in greasy spoons along the Trail of the White Working-Class Voter. Obama, by contrast, lost weight. He regularly ate the same dinner of salmon, rice and broccoli. At Schoop’s Hamburgers, a diner in Portage, Ind., he munched a single french fry and ordered four hamburgers-to go. At the Copper Dome Restaurant, a pancake house in St. Paul, Minn., he ordered pancakes-to go. (An AP reporter wondered: who gets pancakes for the road?) A waiter reeled off a long list of richly topped flapjacks, but Obama went for the plain buttermilk, saying, “I’m kind of traditionalist.” Reporters joked that if he ate a single bite of burger or pancake once the doors of his dark-tinted SUV closed, they’d eat their BlackBerrys. Frustrated by reporters fishing for trivial “gaffes,” Obama did not like coming back to the plane to talk to the press. As he trudged back from time to time to deal with the reporters’ incessant questions, he looked like a suburban dad, slump-shouldered after a long day at the office, taking out the trash.

The bit about Obama’s conservation of energy reminded me of this article about Roger Federer’s own conservation.

I got another sense, however: a sense that he was conserving focus. Fed went through all his subsidiary responsibilities as the President of Tennis (as Steve Tignor calls him) without concentrating on anything, or at least on as few things as possible.

Concentration takes mental energy, as anyone who has fought off five break points before shanking a ball on the sixth knows. And whenever I saw Federer on the grounds, he seemed to be using as little of it as possible. Practicing with Nicolas Kiefer on Ashe a few days before the tournament, he mostly just messed around. He would hit a few familiar Federer shots, the heavy forehand, the penetrating slice, then shank a ball and grin, or yell. Either way, he wasn’t really concentrating all that hard.

Update: Part Four was just posted.

Obama is big news at the NY Times

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2008

Wednesday was the only the fourth time that the NY Times used 96 pt. type for the headline on the front page of the paper. In chronological order:


The Wednesday edition of the Times was very popular. It was sold out all over the city so people lined up outside the Times’ building to buy copies. Copies are available on eBay for $100 or more.

Update: The Times used 96 pt. type for the front page headline on at least one other occasion: January 1, 2000. I wonder if there are others. (thx, jeff)

Update: The Times is selling copies of the Nov 5 paper on their site but it’s currently being hammered by buyers so maybe try again in a few hours? (thx, matt)

Great photos of Obama

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

The Big Picture, the best new blog of the year, celebrates the victory of Barack Obama, no doubt Time’s Man of the Year for 2008, with some of the best photos of the President-Elect taken over the past few months.

More election maps

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

I added ten more maps to the 2008 Election Maps page, including one drawn on a dry erase board.

Dry Erase Election Map

Election night sex

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Several folks on Twitter are talking about post-election sex and Obama babies (children conceived on election night…mark your calendars for late July 2009). The consensus seems to be that Barack got laid in a big way last night.

CA to gays: no marriage for you

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Today is bittersweet…Obama got elected but it looks as though Proposition 8 will pass, banning gay marriage in California. Fuck you, California.

Update: Fuck you too, Arizona and Florida. Also, several people objected to the strong language I used here, saying that I can’t curse an entire state where many voted against the ban, it was all the Mormon Church’s fault, and in one case, that it was hypocritical of me as a New York resident to complain. You know what? I’m *upset* about this and a little profanity, a little lashing out, is totally fucking warranted.

Election headlines

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Both Michael Sippey and Kane Jamison collected screenshots of media sites as they declared Obama’s victory last night. Here are the front pages of all the newspapers today…I particularly enjoyed The Sun’s take on the historic night: One Giant Leap For Mankind. See also: the electoral maps.

Update: Electioneering ‘08 took screencaps of some of the big media sites throughout the evening. (thx, jason)

Update: Jim Ray also collected screencaps of media sites that night.

Update: Kristen Borchardt made an awesome video that takes a number of Nov 5th newspaper front pages and animates through them using each papers’ Obama photo as the focal point…very much like YTMND’s Paris Hilton doesn’t change facial expressions.

2008 election maps

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Last night as the election results were coming in online, I took screenshots of a bunch of the now-familiar red/blue electoral maps being used by the larger media sites to show election results and posted them all on this page. (There are currently 25 maps…I’m adding more in a few minutes.)

NY Times Electoral Map

Hit me on my burner if you run across any others. A couple of quick notes:

1. No one strayed from the red and blue. The red/blue combo is overwhelmingly symbolic but there are plenty of other colors in the crayon box; I would like to have seen someone try something different.

2. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, the red/blue map was the focal point of the media coverage. People were fixated by it. This time around, it didn’t matter so much. The maps were interesting for 3-4 hours until the overwhelming nature of Obama’s victory became apparent and then, not so much. By this morning, the maps are already shrinking or disappearing from the home pages of the Times, CNN, and the like.

3. Nate Silver and the rest of the 538 guys nailed it. They got Indiana wrong and there are a couple more states that are still too close to call, but they got the rest of the map right. Their final projection had Obama getting 348.6 electoral votes and they currently have him at 349.

President Barack Obama

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Hell Yeah Obama Won

There will be no t-shirts this time but all this other stuff will come to pass.

Rough seas ahead

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2008

This page on kottke.org is the #1 result when you Google “obama wins”. Servers may get a little melty around here in the next couple of days. That’s ok…this is what Twitter’s servers are going to look like tomorrow night:

Fail bomb

Imagine this video, but with the fail whale instead of a real whale and a nuclear device instead of dynamite.

The new President’s cabinet?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 31, 2008

A bunch of editors, pundits, and analysts choose who they would like to see in the next President’s cabinet. Current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gets many votes to stay on in that capacity. Warren Buffett also gets a couple of votes for Secretary of the Treasury.

BTW, Treasury? Might be time for an updated name…The Department of the Treasury sounds like that part of the government responsible for safeguarding the nation’s jewels, pieces of eight, and fragments of the True Cross.

Majority judgement voting system

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 30, 2008

Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki have come up with a new voting scheme that they say will yield more accurate results in elections. It’s called majority judgement. Instead of voting for one particular candidate, voters are asked to evaluate all the candidates on a scale from something like “excellent” to “reject”. Here are the results of a trial that they ran in Orsay in France (scroll for English)…and you can see how the results differ from the official election results. To put this in a bit of US-centric context, imagine a voting system where honestly evaluating your feelings about the executive readiness of a third-party candidate like Ralph Nader doesn’t necessarily harm a major party candidate’s chances of getting elected. (*cough* Al Gore *cough* 2000 election.)

They’re running an online majority judgement experiment using the 2008 US Presidential candidates…go sign up and vote. (thx, judy)

New Errol Morris political “switch” ads

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 30, 2008

Errol Morris recently shot a new series of “switcher” ads regarding the 2008 presidential election. Only this time, he found people who are voting for a candidate who inspires them (Barack Obama) instead of against a candidate who let them down (George W Bush).

In introducing the site, Morris offers a taxonomy of what he calls “real people ads”, political ads featuring the views of average everyday people.

And then there’s the self-created interview ad that is a product of recent advances in technology. Camcorders that can be taken anywhere. We’ve seen self-reporting from the Iraq War and video diaries created by soldiers. The photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib are part of this phenomenon. Ultimately, video-blogging and self-reporting finds its expression in campaigns like the “Joe the Plumber.” As I understand it, the McCain campaign has posted on its Web pages a request for people to film themselves and discuss why they are Joe the Plumber or Hank the Laminator or Frank the Painter. The intention is to collect these testimonials and then cut them together for a tax revolt television ad.

The Wire gets political

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 29, 2008

Some of the cast of The Wire appeared in a “get involved” commercial for Barack Obama. Related: Carcetti for Mayor tshirts, re-elect Clay Davis shirts, and Pray for Clay campaign buttons. (thx, farhad)

John McCain vs Barack Obama dance-off

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2008

I don’t know if this has been linked around everywhere or not, but this surprisingly realistic video of a dance-off between Barack Obama and John McCain tickled every last bone in my body. I watched it at least four times.

Obama is up to speed on the Pollan Doctrine

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2008

Senator Obama doesn’t need to be pagedhe’s already read Michael Pollan’s piece on US food policy.

I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen [sic] about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That’s just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.

I wonder if McCain had a chance to read it. (thx, tim & jeremy)

Mapping newspaper political endorsements

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2008

Philip Kromer took the newspaper endorsement data from the Editor and Publisher page I linked to this morning and mapped the results. The states are colored according to FiveThirtyEight’s current projections and those newspapers with larger circulations have larger circles. From Kromer’s blog post:

This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there’s a MSM bias - 50% of the country is urban, 50% rural, but newspapers are located exclusively in urban areas. So, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are all located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish. The urban areas that are the largest are thus both the most liberal and the most likely to have a sizeable conservative target audience.

NY Times endorses Obama

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2008

In a huge shocker, the NY Times has endorsed Barack Obama for President. They also have an interactive feature that shows the newspaper’s past endorsements, from Lincoln in 1860 to the last Republican candidate endorsed, Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

According to Editor and Publisher, Obama is leading McCain in newspaper endorsements by more than 2-to-1, including most of the major papers. Obama: LA Times, NY Times, Sacramento Bee, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, NY Daily News, The Houston Chronicle. McCain: San Diego Union-Tribune, Tampa Tribune, Boston Herald, New York Post, Dallas Morning News, The Detroit News.