Campaign Slogans Over the Years…

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …

Candidates are already jostling for positions ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.

Actually, it’s been going on for quite awhile.

But I have quick observation when I say campaigns “back in the day” had better slogans and catch phrases.

One of my favorites from the 1928 Presidential election was “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage!”

That was found in a GOP flier for Herbert Hoover.

Back in the 1960’s, political quipsters might have suggested “Some pot in every chicken and a VW bus alongside the road”.

I want to hit some of the more memorable slogans.

“Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” was in the 1840 Presidential sweepstakes.

GOP candidate William Henry Harrison defeated Tecumseh in their infamous 1811 battle at Tippecanoe and John Tyler was Harrison’s running mate.

“50-40 or Fight” was part of James K. Polk’s campaign in 1844.

It was his position on the Oregon boundary border dispute with Russia and Great Britain.

The “54-40” was a geographic reference to the area in question (54 degrees 40′).

Pretty clever, huih?

I personally remember from 1964, GOP Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s sloga, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right”.

The LBJ campaign countered with, “In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts”.

I was aware of chemistry in high school, so I also thought “AuH2O” was a pretty slick bumper sticker for the Goldwater campaign.

I chuckle when folks complain about the “salty” nature of politics today but in 1884, Republicans attacked Democrat Grover Cleveland with the slogan, “Mama, where’s my Papa?”, a direct reference to rumors that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child.

When Cleveland won, “Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!” was the retort.

In 1908, William Howard Taft supporters chanted, “Vote for Taft now. You can vote for Bryan anytime!” a direct reference to Bryan’s failed Presidential bids in 1896 and 1900.

I sorta liked “We Polked you in ’44. We shall Pierce you in ’52” was a part of Franklin Pierce’s campaign referencing the 1844 election of James K. Polk.

In 1856, James Buchanan, playing with his nickname “Buck” had the slogan “We’ll Buck ’em in ’56” to connect to the winning themes of the 2 previous elections

I thought Wendell Wilkie’s slogan for the 1940 Presidential vote against FDR was politically succinct.

“Roosevelt for ex-President”.

Incumbents seemed to like the sentiments of Abraham Lincolns’ presidential campaign in 1864 when the cry was “Don’t change horses in mid-stream”.

Similar slogans turned up in FDR’s 1944 run as well as George H.W. Bush in 1992/

I’m a fan of alliteration so this one grabbed my attention.

“Free Soil. Free Labor. Free Free Speech. Free Men. Fremont” for John Fremont who lost to Democrat James Buchanan.

Do you remember, “I Like Ike” for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s run in 1952?

It became “I Still Like Ike” in 1956.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson campaigned on “War in Europe. Peace in American. God Bless Wilson”.

A year later, the U.S. entered World War I.

Dealing with the Depression, FDR had “Happy Days Are Here Again” in 1932.

It didn’t work, but in 1936, Alf Landon’s slogan was “Let’s make it a Landon-slide”.


1948 gave us Harry Truman with “The Buck Stops Here” and “Give ’em Hell Harry!”

Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter had “Not Just Peanuts” in 1976 and 4 years later, Ronald Reagan asked, “Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years ago?”

Remember when George H.W. Bush said, “Read My Lips. No New Taxes!” in 1988 which led Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992 to use “It’s the Economy Stupid”.

That was actually intended for an internal audience but became the de facto slogan for Clinton./

In 2016, we had “Feel the Bern” for Democrat Bernie Sanders and GOP candidate Bobby Jindall lost me with “Tanned. Rested. Ready”.

In 1970, the Temptations gave us, “Ball of Confusion” (That’s What the World is Today).

It seems to fit as a closing thought for this article.

“Vote for me and I’ll set you free. Rap on brother, rap on.”

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