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2008 turned out to be a year of triumphs, upsets, and a major historical milestone, in the form of the presidential election.
And throughout that year, our community created amazing designs for their favorite candidates – and we started to notice a very interesting trend. We found that we could make an educated guess on who would win based on the sales percentages of CafePress products for each candidate. And from every primary, to John McCain’s Republican nomination, to the election of Barack Obama as the next president, our theory turned out to be right on target. If we could – in a way – help predict the 2008 elections through the popularity of our products, we could measure CafePress as a Cultural Barometer for pop culture and current events. We built the “CafePress Meter” and became a straw poll of sorts.
This year, we’re sensing the anticipation of the upcoming 2012 elections – and we’re already seeing who’s being talked about, and who’s going to make it or break it. Take a look at who’s got the buzz, and who’s going to give Obama a run for his money:
Although Sarah Palin has yet to announce her intentions for the Presidential race, Sarah Palin products have been consistently up for the past nine months. To be or not to be – that is the Palin question. In addition, Ron Paul’s going strong, and Rick Perry has started to take over a bigger piece of the Republican challengers pie since his declaration for the presidential seat in June.
All in all, we’re keeping a close watch on what’s happening, and we’ll be your source for all things politics through products to sport your support. Who do you think has the biggest chance to run against Obama, and who is his biggest threat?
With all the debate over iPhone v. Droid v. Blackberry v. Palm, Sarah Palin seems to have gone old school and taken matters into her own hands – literally. This weekend the former Governor of Alaska gave a speech to the National Tea Party conference in Nashville, and a slight bend of her arm revealed that Palin was glancing at her hand for the same reason that Gordy Mayfield was glancing at his in your third-grade spelling test. Which is to say that Palin had a crib sheet on her palm.
The topic of the speech was her top three hitlist for the GOP. Close-ups of her hand seem to indicate that what was written there was “Energy, tax cuts, lift American spirits,” with the word “budget” crossed out.
We want to know what the people would have liked to see on that… er, handy… crib sheet. And this brings us to Monday’s PALIN PALM CHALLENGE, wherein we’ll be giving away a free T-shirt* at random for every 25 unique folks that shout out with a #palinpalm tweet on our @cafepress Twitter account. Yes, democracy is alive everywhere.
Swap out the business suit for a snow-machine suit (easily obtainable on the cheap at larger thrift shops) and stuff your pockets full of dollar bills. Don’t forget your moose bag and your glasses, though.
Mock up a few fake copies of “Going Rogue” to hand out to screaming fans, and bring a pen to sign them. (Yep, we make books. No, we are not advocating trademark infringement. Call the book whatever you’d like, or just carry Dr. Seuss’s “My Book About Me” for kicks.)
Engage friends to be your screaming literary fans. It’s an easy costume for them; we have tons of flair that they can wear to express their love for all things Palin (read: you).
Just don’t forget your lipstick. Extra bonus points to anyone who brings their pit bull and lipstick – but unless the lipstick is bacon-flavored, please do keep it off your dog. (And if you find bacon-flavored lipstick, please let us know. That would be a find.)
In a surprise press conference that created an instantaneous double-entendre of all the “Go, Sarah, Go!” bumper stickers, Sarah Palin shocked the nation when she announced her resignation as Alaska’s Governor, a year and a half before her four-year term ends. She’ll be succeeded by Lt. Governor Sean Parnell.
In her speech, Palin listed her reason for departure as being one of a higher concern for Alaska and the country. Noting that her not planning to run for a second term would create an ineffectual “lame-duck” status, Palin also expressed great disdain for the energy and money being spent on the ethics investigations into her office.
Palin herself has said vaguely that she’ll still be involved in politics in some way. What that means is unknown; what’s sure is that the woman who inspired a party (and a whole lotta T-shirt designers) is going to have a lot more time on her hands come July 26th.
Or so says Alaska Fund Trust spokesperson and Sarah Palin’s longtime friend Kristan Cole. Palin is faced with half a million dollars in legal fees stemming from various lawsuits concerning her alleged ethics breaches; the most recent lawsuit comes from an Alaska citizen who claims that Palin flew to a right-to-life rally on PAC dollars. The legal defense fund has been set up, in the words of Cole, for this reason:
“Over the past months it became increasingly clear that supporters of Gov. Palin needed to help defend against the onslaught of frivolous attacks against her. These baseless accusations are designed to inhibit her ability to focus on the issues Alaskans truly care about and force massive personal debt on her and her family.”
Is moose meat a good way to raise money for the fund? Is it just suggesting that Palin’s in the crosshairs (or that she has antlers)? Hmm… we’re not sure. The design at right, we’re assuming, might indicate that Joe the Plumber is managing the defense fund (it came up under a search for “palin fund,”) but as far as we know Joe the Plumber hasn’t yet made this career switch. Then again, he does seem to be a plumber of many toolbelts…
It may not seem like a Vice Presidential candidate has a lot in common with a local plumber and a teenage vampire, but then again this was a year of surprises. Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Joe the Plumber and Edward Cullen showed the kind of impact that can be made when the everyman appeal hits home.
John McCain’s surprise pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate spurred a Republican resurgence of energy and a national media frenzy. As Palin fascination grew, the t-shirts came pouring in – Palin actually unseated Obama for a time in the t-shirt primary, thus proving that a Bible-and-Gun-totin’ Hockey Mom could inspire more than her party members. Sarah Palin had a lot of nicknames and colloquiallisms applied to her that lent themselves naturally to merchandise, and many of them had to do with animals – not entirely inappropriate, given that she hails from the bucolic state of Alaska. She was the Cougar, the Barracuda (and the Sarahcuda), the Moose-Hunter, Caribou Barbie and the Pit Bull with Lipstick. She was also the Maverick (and used the term liberally to describe both her and McCain), the Hockey Mom, the MILF and the VPILF.
Given her unabashed love of hunting, guns and her religion, it wasn’t surprising to see strong opinions on both sides of the political fence about Sarah Palin. The religious right embraced her as the All-American poster girl and portrayed her as the anti-Obama; liberals and feminists, insulted at the implied assumption that women would vote along gender lines rather than on political issues, decried her as inexperienced and anti-feminist and accused McCain of pandering to the 18 million voters who had chosen Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
It seemed that everything Palin did was worthy of a headline, most notably any homespun gaffes she might make in front of a camera. But when Palin spoke, people listened. From her noting Alaska’s proximity to Russia as foreign policy experience to her performance in the debates, Sarah Palin was someone who’s every word (and choice of accessory) was discussed and debated – and, very often, committed to the almighty t-shirt. In the end, Palin’s newsworthiness was unable to knock Obama out of the minds of American voters on election day. But in the short time she was in the public eye, Sarah Palin managed to put Wasilla, Alaska on the World Map. (It’s up by Canada, kinda next to Russia.)
Republican Congressman Ron Paul burst onto the 2008 election scene Howard Dean-style. Using the Internet as his canvassing ground, he amassed millions of supporters (The “Ron Paul Revolution“) who viewed the Republican Presidential Candidate from Lake Jackson, Texas as a heroic, no-nonsense, common-sense-talking anti-Bush. Though a Libertarian at heart, Ron Paul has been open about the necessity of running for public office as a Republican in order to have a viable shot at Congress and the Presidency. He is openly critical about President Bush and his administration, particularly as relates to the Iraq war and Bush big government straying from intrinsic Republican values.
Without the money to buy quality airtime and with the cameras aimed elsewhere, Ron Paul used the Internet and in-person speaking engagements to spread his message. His dedication to his ideals and the massive online support he amassed did get people to stand up and take notice, though ultimately – like Dean before him – he was unable to transfer his online popularity into real-world votes. Still, though, Ron Paul made a name for himself as an honest-to-a-fault public servant who stays true to his beliefs and his constituents, and he was the first candidate in the 2008 election to harness the power of the internet to mobilize his message and his supporters.
Joe the Plumber
Joe the Plumber (known as Joe Wurzelbacher by those who can pronounce it)made a name for himself during the third Presidential debate. Better said, John McCain made a name for him (namely, Joe the Plumber), mentioning Joe 21 times. Obama was good for 5 mentions, for a grand total of 26 mentions for Joe the Plumber. By contrast, Iraq came up 6 times and the economy was mentioned 16 times. Joe far outshone mention of Sarah Palin and Joe Biden as well. Not surprisingly, we saw Joe the Plumber designs hit the system mid-debate and within a few hours Joe had about 1/4 the content of all plumber designs.
Joe became an unlikely hero for the McCain campaign after having a discussion with Obama on the campaign trail about the Illinois Senator’s proposed tax plan. McCain used Joe as an example of a hardworking American (dare we say Joe Six Pack?) who would pay more taxes under the Obama plan. The Obama/Joe conversation was recorded by cameras; the uncut version ends with Obama noting that chatting with Joe was good debate prep:
His vote was kept private for 12 days, at which point he jumped on the bus and hit the campaign trail with John McCain. In the meantime, Joe was made an instant celebrity and unlikely political pundit, being interviewed as a symbol of the everyman by everyone from Katie Couric to Mike Huckabee. Local television stations around the country scrambled to find their own Joe the Plumber (my own local station used Eduardo the Electrician – yes, really), but none could match the t-shirt worthiness of the actual Joe the Plumber.
As is the case with so many relationships rushed into by two people who barely know each other, the McCain/Wurzelbacher romance hit the rocks a couple weeks later over McCain’s support of the Paulson bailout plan. While Wurzelbacher now says he was “appalled” by McCain at that point and considered moving out (read: getting off the bus), he reconsidered due to their mutual desire to move the Arizona Senator into more modest accommodations in Washington, D.C..
With the election over, Joe has found a place for himself on conservative talk radio and television; he also has a book deal in the works. When all is said and done, Joe the Plumber will go down as someone who took his 15 minutes of fame and ran with it. (Er… or rode a bus with it.)
If you haven’t heard of the small town of Forks, Washington or its sparkly resident Edward Cullen, chances are that you don’t have a teenage girl in the house. The real town of Forks is the setting for Stephenie Meyers’ “Twilight” book series, which portrays a love story between teenagers Bella (a mortal and recent transplant to Forks) and Edward Cullen (vampire, baseball player and Forks resident).
The hit book series was optioned by Hollywood, and the first “Twilight” movie hit theaters on November 21st to rave fan reviews. Before the movie opened, the “Twilight” folks did something for their fans that’s a rarity in Hollywood: they gave them permission to make “Twilight” merchandise.
Given the avid fan base of “Twilight,” we looked forward to seeing creative, inspired designs – and we weren’t disappointed. Twilight t-shirts immediately filled the fan portal to the tune of almost 450,000 Twilight products as of this writing, and motivated fans were able to wear their own creations – and those of other fans – to the opening night showing.
While Edward Cullen himself is by far the most popular character in the land of t-shirt fandom, there’s also a wide variety of shirts celebrating Bella, Jacob and the story itself. All in all, it’s been a real treat to see the enthusiasm and creativity that “Twilight” enthusiasts have demonstrated over the past few months.
So what would Edward wear? Well, we think he’d find something.
Sarah Palin made headlines last week when she visited a local turkey farm to pardon a turkey. Of course, this in and of itself isn’t hugely out of the ordinary. The President pardons a turkey at Thanksgiving every year as well.
What was a bit out of the ordinary was the location and style of the interview that Palin gave at the turkey farm, which included one of the ostensibly unpardoned turkeys being slaughtered behind her at the hands of an incredibly camera-conscious man who alternates between shoving the apparently live bird into some sort of grinder, and turning around toward the camera with, it seems, the same sense of bewilderment that those watching the video itself have.
Video of the Palin turkey farm interview has been circulating since publication. WARNING: if watching an animal die while a former Vice Presidential candidate sips coffee and blithely chats about her plans for Thanksgiving is going to bother you, don’t watch this video. Which is to say that animals were most definitely harmed during the making of this video, so be forewarned.
Of course, some vegetarians are happy that this video may be turning some people off turkey, noting that those planning to have a turkey on their Thanksgiving table should understand how it got there.
Whether the ill-fated turkey starring in this interview is the entree of honor at the Palins’ dinner table hasn’t been reported.
While many a motivated citizen look forward to the outcome of the election and the start of a new chapter in our political history, there are of course those wearied Americans who are just tired of all the political talk, tired of all the bickering, tired of their regularly scheduled programming being pre-empted for debates and such, and who just want this thing to be over so we can all get back to our everyday business.
And for that wearied, put-upon or apathetic voter, we say: just hang in there. It’s been a long political season, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. (Country Western fans and more cynical voters may insert “Let’s just hope it’s not an oncoming train” here.)
And so today we take a recap look at the longest t-shirt election season we’ve seen ’round these parts. We have The Meter to track candidate sales per date ranges, and today we’ll also share a few highlights that hit on this long road to a new President.
Billary was the first to make an appearance on the 2008 political t-shirt scene; we started seeing “Bill for First Lady” shirts back in 2006, long before most of us had heard of that Obama character.
And so it was for awhile; lots of Hillary merchandise on both sides of the fence, as political pundits assumed that she’d be the Democratic nominee and Republicans didn’t have a clear leader in their posse. Some early Hillary standouts:
Indeed, the “Anybody but Hillary” sentiment was a solid Right Wing mantra… right up until that other guy showed up, at which point Republicans were reminded of Mom’s “careful what you wish for” life lesson.
But before Obama was a household name – and seemingly out of nowhere – Ron Paul showed up and gave the other potential candidates a lesson on using the Internet as a viable way to raise a campaign, raise awareness and raise funds.
Though he made huge waves online, Ron Paul – like Howard Dean before him – was unable to carry that momentum out into the world to an extent that would win him the Republican nomination. But to his credit, he managed to inspire a whole lotta people. Not to mention a whole lotta t-shirts.
Huckabee, too, had some early promise in the t-shirt primary, but started to take a dive with Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton, who up to this point had been both the Democratic frontrunner and the Republican anti-Christ.
Which is to say that mainstream Republicans, unsure of their candidate, had been using anti-Hillary sentiments as their go-to mantras.
And then Obama showed up and change did happen. Change in the form of a product explosion unlike anything we’ve seen in previous elections.
Obama merchandise was creative, inspired and staggering in its volume. And as Hillary merch started a slow but steady decline, and John McCain made a minimal appearance that was slightly less popular than Al Gore’s draft movement, the Obama t-shirt primary exploded.
And so it was that in mid-September, there was a dead heat in the McCain/Palin and Obama/Other Politician Dude merchandise race. But that tie was brief, and even with supporters like hockey moms and Russia and the ever-popular Joe the Plumber, Obama again pulled ahead of Palin and McCain by the end of the month and their paths have continued to diverge ever since.
What will happen in today’s election is still an unknown. What we do know is that this election season has led to the most interesting, creative and inspired t-shirt race we’ve ever seen. And for that we thank the First Amendment and, of course, all the people out there who chose to get their mind onto their chests and wear it loud this political season. (Just remember to spare the flair at your polling place.)
Could a t-shirt cost you the right to vote? Well, maybe. It depends on your polling place. E-mails have been circulating about in such a manner as the Nigerian money scam, making internet-savvy folks skeptical about the assertion that their “Geezer/Dingbat” shirt could possibly cost them entry to their polling place.
Now, some call it “electioneering” and some call it “passive electioneering,” which makes slightly more sense given that the actual definition of “electioneering” tells us that it’s to work actively for a campaign or political party. And it’s a stretch to consider a wardrobe choice to be an activity – because unless you’re a nudist, getting dressed is something we all have to do every day, regardless of political involvement.
What caught our attention, though, is that both are wearing CafePress shirts.
Spencer stepped out in the classic “3 G’s” t-shirt – the one he’s wearing has been retooled by its designer, so if you’re a fan of the design you’ll get close with two options:
Heidi is sporting a pink “Read My Lipstick – Vote McCain Palin” spaghetti-strap tank, disproving everyone who thinks that Hollywood and California as a whole are full of nothin’ but a bunch of left-wing Liberals.
Indeed – we may be a blue state, but our fearless Hollywood-scion leader is The Governator, after all.