While the political world has been consumed the past few weeks with the attempted violent coup at the U.S. Capitol, the ensuing impeachment effort, and finally the inauguration of a new president, I like to remember way back to a simpler time before all this craziness.

That simpler time I refer to, of course, was one day before the Trumpist mob invaded the Capitol — yes, the day Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won the runoff races for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.

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Winners, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock

Because, assuming democracy continues in this country, those two victories that once seemed impossible in the…


Joe Biden, like Abraham Lincoln, is making it clear these days that the closing argument for his presidential campaign will be a call for unity. And why shouldn’t he? Unity polls well, and it’s a neat aspirational vision for a country that feels increasingly torn apart.

“The closing argument is that we need to unify the country,” said Mike Donilon, Biden’s chief strategist and architect of the speech. “He won’t represent just Democrats or Republicans, he’ll represent everyone.”

So what if all the savvy insiders make fun of him for believing in a long-gone fantasy world where Republicans would…


For decades, political operatives, candidates, and other observers have acted like they could they could buck an unfavorable partisan environment by focusing on local issues. Or like the state of the economy would be a major factor in determining incumbent candidates’ success. Or like their only path to victory was to raise as much money as possible.

And all that may have even been true — once.

These days, politics doesn’t work like that. Here’s why it’s time to kill off these three zombie myths before they get another chance to eat our campaigns.

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#1 — Politics Is No Longer Local

All politics is local,” former House…


If you haven’t seen Pete Buttigieg’s campaign brand kit yet, it’s an impressive step forward for the Democratic world, which has been slow to adopt many of the powerful brand management techniques that are standard in the commercial world. The one thing that’s really missing from Mayor Pete’s kit is a language component that distills his value proposition into a few words the way his color scheme distills his campaign story into visuals.

But before getting into what Buttigieg can add, let’s start with everything his effort gets right so far. At the top of the list is effort —…


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By White House photographer — Official White House Facebook page, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55185771

President Donald Trump has been the most problematic public figure in the history of fact checking. He’s almost always wrong, but proving it never seems to make a difference among his supporters in the electorate or in official Washington.

Is this “very stable genius” lying all the time? Is he mentally ill? Or maybe it’s both? The only correct answer is: it doesn’t matter.

As some have pointed out, we don’t need a psychiatrist’s label to know that Trump is dangerous and erratic, unable to apply the knowledge and judgment required to govern the country effectively. …


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Roy Moore, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Alabama, is a virulently anti-gay would-be theocrat with an unstable mind and a violent bent. Now it turns out he’s allegedly a pedophile, too.

So why has Alabama’s Democratic Senate nominee, Doug Jones, had so much trouble taking Moore’s moral failings head on? Shouldn’t this be a softball for Jones?

Right after the primary in September, a senior Jones strategist said the campaign would let Moore’s history of anti-gay bigotry “speak for itself.” In the hours after news broke in November about Moore’s allegedly pedophiliac past, the Jones campaign sent out multiple…


Why it’ll take more than an aggressive student loan reform policy for Clinton to energize the youth vote like Sanders has.

Let’s say Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination. To win the general election in November, she’ll need a big turnout from voters under 30. But those voters have so far supported her opponent Bernie Sanders in huge numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire. How will she win them over?

Greg Sargent says the very gravity of that question would translate to big leverage for Sanders in the general election.

But where does Sanders’ appeal to those young voters come from? As Sargent points out:

Sanders has “a message that, in unflinchingly describing our challenges in monumental and urgent terms, also…


Donald Trump’s second place finish in Iowa last night could damage his brand as a winner, but he has the tools to come back.

Last summer, he used speed, confusion, and a clearly defined brand to dominate his presidential primary opponents on social media.

How did he do it? It all starts with some military strategy.

Get OODA Here

In the U.S. Marine Corps maneuver warfare manual, there’s a fair amount of attention devoted to a concept called OODA loops. Trump himself may or may not know about OODA loops as a formal concept, but he certainly takes full advantage of it.

Here’s…


What does every single presidential candidate’s color choice tell us about political branding?

When Hillary Clinton unveiled her 2015 campaign logo, the armchair quarterbacking was intense. The right-pointing arrow signals conservative — especially when it’s red! That’s a Republican color!

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The one thing nobody thought to mention, though: Clinton’s logo was blue, red, and white.

And why would they? The Republican frontrunners, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, use some combination of those colors too in their visual identities, too — and for that matter, so does every single one of the other dozen-plus presidential candidates this cycle.

“Obviously!” you say. “Those are the colors of the American flag. Duh!” But does that…


The damage goes deeper than what happened to Indiana’s “reputation” or who “won the week.”

Indiana’s unfolding drama with legalizing discrimination has spawned a nationwide media storm, boycotts of the state, and one compromise bill that just made everyone unhappy.

This has caused damage to the political brands of the state of Indiana and nationwide Republicans. After decades of building electoral successes on “God, guns, and gays,” Republicans were clearly caught off-guard by how rapidly public opinion on equality is changing:

[T]he state’s Governor and Republican legislators seem to have stumbled onto one of those tipping point moments when the balance of public sentiment and action doesn't just shift but shifts dramatically, with the initial…

Will Bunnett

Political psychology and #politicalbrand expert. I can help.

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