Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Biden to Win

Historian Allan Lichtman's 13 Keys to the White House has correctly predicted the outcome of every Presidential election since 1984 (and retrospectively to 120 years ago). His system predicts a Biden win this year.

Designing the Unknown: the New Biden-Harris Logo

Jason Kottke   Aug 14, 2020

On Tuesday, Joe Biden announced that Senator Kamala Harris would be his vice-presidential running mate. The campaign was quickly updated to include a new Biden-Harris logo designed by Hoefler&Co. in collaboration with Biden campaign advisor Robyn Kanner:

Biden Harris Logo

But the designer of the logo wasn’t told who the running mate would be beforehand, so how did the campaign get it out so quickly? According to Jonathan Hoefler, the design team designed a whole collection of logos for potential candidates gleaned from reading the media tea leaves.

A consequential decision at an unpredictable time, conducted under absolute secrecy, poses an interesting dilemma to the typographer: how do you create a logo without knowing for certain what the words will say? Logos, after all, are meaningfully informed by the shapes of their letters, and a logo designed for an eisenhower will hardly work for a taft. The solution, naturally, involves the absurd application of brute force: you just design all the logos you can think of, based on whatever public information you can gather. Every credible suggestion spotted in an op-ed was added to the list that we designers maintained, and not once did the campaign even hint at a preference for one name over another.

I would love to see some of those alternate designs (Biden-Warren!), but there’s no way in hell they’ll ever see the light of day, especially before the election.



A virtual convention that turned into an actual success

In this image from video, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Well, that was … different.

And this time, different was good, different was effective. This time, different worked.

Monday night’s opening of the Democratic National Convention felt like a TV show. Then again, let’s be honest, the national conventions have always been made-for-TV events.

But this time around, with the coronavirus turning the convention into a mostly-virtual event full of taped speeches and highly produced videos, it felt like a variety show. Smoothly hosted by actress Eva Longoria, the tightly-edited, fast-paced show had celebrities, music videos and a series of powerful speeches.

Then the last 15 minutes turned into a full-fledged political fight because of a devastating speech delivered by former first lady Michelle Obama.

“I’ve never heard a first lady speak about a sitting president of the United States the way Michelle Obama did,” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said moments after the conclusion of the first night of the DNC.

Let’s start, however, with the night as a whole. Thanks to obvious meticulous planning, the Democrats took a virtual convention and turned into an actual success by leaning into the advantages of a convention not confined to a convention hall.

There were videos featuring Joe Biden, including one with Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” playing under it. There were other music videos, featuring the likes of Maggie Rogers and Leon Bridges. There were speeches of popular politicians, such as New York City Mayor Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But there also were moments of so-called “regular people” who told their stories of why Biden is the future. That included a heartbreaking testimonial from a woman whose father voted for Trump and died of the coronavirus, in part, she said, because he listened to Trump downplaying the virus.

That was the most impactful moment of the night.

Until Michelle Obama spoke in a taped speech.

CNN’s Van Jones called it an “extraordinary speech,” adding, “She was not just trying to put the president down, she was picking the country up.”

But make no mistake, she put down President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is."

It is what it is — an obvious reference to Trump’s answer to a question about the coronavirus.

ABC’s Byron Pitts called it the third-most important speech of the week, presumably behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. He called Michelle Obama “the cool aunt, everybody’s favorite aunt.”

But part of her speech was more like that of a mother, imploring that the office of the president be reserved for someone with empathy — something she insists Trump lacks and Biden has. In this moment, the speech felt much more intimate and, therefore, much more effective than had it been delivered in a huge convention hall with thousands of people. Her anger, her grace, her passion and compassion and every other emotion was especially felt because of the format.

Fox News’ Dana Perino said, “(It’s) very difficult to connect with an audience without an actual audience there with you, but she has the ability to connect with people through the screen. You got the sense when you talk about authenticity, she has it in spades. She has that voice, she has clarity and she knows what she was out there wanting to do.”

Her colleague, Chris Wallace, said, “She really flayed, sliced and diced Donald Trump talking about the chaos and confusion and lack of empathy especially coming from this president and this White House. … This was a very effective speech.”

This is an unusual convention that could result in disconnect and ambivalence from the audience. However, through one night, the Democrats figured out how to make it work and connect with their audience. Now can they keep it going for three more nights?

Plan your vote

(Courtesy: NBC News)

Smart stuff here from NBC News and MSNBC: They’ve launched something called “Plan Your Vote.” It’s a state-by-state interactive digital guide that helps voters figure out how to vote this year. It goes through each state and tells voters about deadlines for mail-in voting, how voters can track their mail-in votes, absentee voting, and other questions about in-person voting, including about photo IDs. There’s also a PSA featuring NBC News/MSNBC on-air personalities, including Lester Holt and Joy Reid.

NBC News chief marketing officer Aaron Taylor told AdWeek, “We wanted to, in a non-partisan way, inform and educate viewers and let them know that they need a game plan if they’re going to be able to vote safely, and if they’re going to be able to vote in time so that their votes are counted. Instead of just trying to figure out what our ‘Rock the Vote’ was, we had the opportunity to provide a service.”

ABC News also has published a voter registration guide. Axios’ Sara Fischer has a roundup of what media organizations are doing with voting.

Mark Powell Art

Artist Mark Powell draws portraits on repurposed canvases (old maps, newspapers, ads, postcards) with a ballpoint pen. I could have sworn I’d featured Powell’s work before, but I was probably thinking of the work of Ed Fairburnor Matthew Cusick.

The best way to check out Powell’s work is on Behance or on his website (where he has prints and originals for sale).