Getting the Nomination | Campaigning
Getting Out the Vote | Torchlight Parades

Dwight D. Eisenhower potholder, 1952

American campaign novelties are as old as the election process itself. They are created by political parties to promote a candidate and by ambitious manufacturers to take advantage of a market of enthusiastic followers.

These objects represent the union of American popular culture and politics, and presume a high level of personal participation on the part of supporters and voters. In an age of television-driven campaigns, such tangible tokens are often dismissed as insignificant. But they help foster long-term party identification, and are a way for voters to feel connected to the political process beyond Election Day.

Pitcher from Whig party 1840 campaign
The Whig Party's 1840 log-cabin campaign for William Henry Harrison brought popular electioneering to the masses. Among its many innovations was the sale of goods to loyal backers, such as this pitcher with campaign imagery.
Bryan Donkey and Taft Elephant from 1908 election
In the spirit of nonpartisan marketing, manufacturers produce items for all political persuasions. The makers of these cast-iron novelties for the 1908 election created a donkey with a portrait of William Jennings Bryan for Democrats and an elephant with the likeness of William H. Taft for Republicans.
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