The Polarizing Power Of The “AOC Slant”

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One of the most recognizable design trends in campaign logos of the last decade is known as the "AOC Slant." This term refers to the visual style of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign logo, which features her name displayed in sans-serif type on an incline. Following her upset victory over incumbent Joseph Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary for New York's 14th congressional district, many candidates across the country have adopted similar design elements in their own campaign logos.

In addition to the slanted text, Ocasio-Cortez's logo also featured a distinctive color palette, favoring purple and yellow instead of the traditional red, white, and blue often associated with American political campaigns. This combination of design elements – the slanted logo, bold sans-serif font, and unconventional colors – has become a shorthand for Democratic candidates looking to signal their progressive values and align themselves with the rising wave of young, diverse, and more left-leaning politicians exemplified by Ocasio-Cortez.

In our recent experiment, we tested a logo that echoed the "AOC Slant" for a fictitious candidate named "Laura Banks Jones." This logo was based on the real-life design used by Christine Alexandria Olivo, the Democratic nominee in Florida's solidly Republican 26th congressional district. Interestingly, we found that the "Laura Banks Jones" logo elicited strong reactions from participants, both positive and negative.

While the logo ranked first in favorability among Democratic respondents, it placed last among Republicans. This polarizing response suggests that the "AOC Slant" and its associated design elements have become strongly linked to progressive political ideals, to the point where they can evoke an immediate and visceral reaction from voters across the political spectrum.

Furthermore, when we asked participants to select their most and least preferred logos from a series of options, the "Laura Banks Jones" design received the third-highest number of "most preferred" selections but also the second-highest number of "least preferred" selections. This finding underscores the divisive nature of the "AOC Slant" and highlights the importance of carefully considering the target audience when designing a campaign logo.

Interestingly, the "Laura Banks Jones" logo was popular among the professional designers we surveyed in our initial round of rankings. These designers, who were asked to rate the logos based on their aesthetic appeal and perceived effectiveness, generally gave high marks to the design. However, it's worth noting that the designers in our sample were more likely to identify as Democrats themselves.

Our study also revealed that voters had strong opinions about the attributes they associated with the "Laura Banks Jones" logo. When asked to select three words that best described their perception of the candidate based on the logo, participants most frequently chose "fresh," "exciting," and "extreme." Notably, the "Laura Banks Jones" logo was the only one in our study to elicit "extreme" as a top-three attribute.

Moreover, when we asked participants to guess the party affiliation of the candidate based solely on the logo, the vast majority of respondents identified "Laura Banks Jones" as a Democrat. In fact, this logo had the strongest partisan association of any that we tested.

Our study on the impact of campaign logo design on voter perceptions has yielded several important insights, particularly regarding the use of the "AOC Slant" and its associated design elements. While this style has become increasingly popular among progressive candidates seeking to align themselves with the energy and values represented by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, our findings suggest that it may not always be the most effective choice for building a broad base of support.

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