Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Starry Eyes

Unless you're involved in GOTV, there's not much to do, politically, today (you have voted, right?); and I really don't want to do any more pre- postmortems.  So instead, I have a quick party political culture study, and I'll then self-servingly recommend some fun reading for your afternoon.

The study: you know those icons that sit (at least in the browsers I use) to the left of the URL in the address bar?  I don't know what to call them other than icons, so I'll go with that.  Did you ever wonder whether there's a difference between the symbolism that Democrats and Republicans use?

Well, I did.  That's exactly the sort of thing I'm fascinated by.  And it turns out...yes, there is one difference, at least based on a very, very limited sample size.  Democrats?  They love stars.  Republicans?  Not so much.

OK, our candidates here are the major party nominees for the 19 most contested Senate seats this cycle.  I accessed each of their web pages, and checked out the icons.  First finding: at least on the browsers I was using, Republicans were far less likely to even deploy an icon: six of the nineteen did not, while only two Democrats had the boring turned down page default.  Also, two of the GOP candidate's icons, for Vitter and Raese, were extremely hard to make out, at least on my screen, Vitter so much so that I'm dropping him from the count.

The results, beginning with , candidate ID. Republicans were more likely to use the candidate's name or initial (5 of 11 Republicans, 4 of 17 Democrats).  One candidate from each party (Barbara  Boxer and Sharron Angle) used a candidate picture as the icon; I suppose I should point out that what they have in common is that they're both women.

State symbols?  No partisan difference.  Five Democrats used the state outline, compared to three Republicans, but Ken Buck has a C for Colorado.  Kelly Ayotte has a couple of trees, which are presumably whatever New Hampshire's state tree is; does that count? 

Which brings us to patriotic symbols.  Both parties used flag imagery (Dems 3, GOP 2).  Both basically stuck with red, white, and/or blue, with just a couple of exceptions: Brad Ellsworth had a gold star; Pat Toomey had to yellow background behind a large blue T, and Ayotte's trees are, naturally, green.   But here comes the kicker: Seven Democrats use a star in their icon, while only one Republican has a star.  Hell, Joe Sestak has three stars!

So, that's the big difference: Democrats love stars, Republicans don't.  At least in this tiny sample size.  I'd love to know if there's something real there...but not enough to spend my day calling up House web sites, or whatever.

Oh, and the self-serving recommendation: an article of mine (and coauthors Becky Bromley and Krystle Meyer) from a few years ago: "Republicans and Golf, Democrats and Outkast: Or, Party Political Culture from the Top Down."  It's about what political operatives and Hill Staff and other such types like to read, watch, listen to, and other trivia like that: perfect reading for the political junkie with time to kill while waiting for the returns to start coming in (free registration required, although they do make it a pain). 


  1. Good post. BTW, they're called "favicons"


  2. Huh. Thanks. Learn something every day.

  3. The DLC's logo is a star, too.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?