How backdrops get made for Biden and Trump campaign livestreams

The 2020 campaign’s newest must-have is… a ring light. We’ve got some new details on how campaigns are building at-home sets for livestream events. Also in this week’s issue:

  • Is the Trump campaign building its own digital echo chamber?

  • Notes on campaign design: Justin Amash’s third-party bid

  • How we’re using emoji during the pandemic


How backdrops get made for Biden and Trump campaign livestreams

With the shift from rallies to livestreams, campaigns are putting lots of thought into how their backdrops look.

Biden campaign advisors scouted his Delaware home to find a good filming location and decided on his basement in front of a bookshelf, according to the New York Times. The flag off to the side was the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his son Beau, who died in 2015.

The wiring, lighting, and camera for the makeshift studio was installed in two days, and the camera is operated remotely from Sioux City, Iowa.

The Trump campaign, which airs a “Team Trump Online” livestream show every night, sent out kits for surrogates, according to Politico. These kits included lighting, mics, and merch, like signs, coffee cups, and “Keep America Great” hats, to give at-home sets a Trump-branded look.

“When you work for President Trump, you learn right away that production value is king,” former Trump aide Jason Miller said. “Presentation means everything in Trump world.”

Is the Trump campaign building its own digital echo chamber?

The Trump campaign’s official app is currently No. 13 in the App Store “News” section, and some Democrats are worried it’s part of a larger strategy to build an echo chamber around Trump supporters.

Former Buttigieg campaign online engagement director Stefan Smith tweeted a thread Monday about the Trump campaign “building a digital mouse trap for their supporters” that received attention on politics Twitter.

Smith argued that the Trump campaign app — with its push notifications, data capture, and points-based gamification — along with the campaign’s digital programming, is like a casino, “a building built without easy exits or clocks to keep people there longer than expected.”

It’s designed to “trap supporters and limit contact with outside information” and “inoculate them from news about Trump’s failings,” Smith tweeted.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted last week that the campaign has reached almost 300 million views across social media, recruited 300,000 new volunteers, and placed 20 million phone calls to voters since going virtual.

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Notes on campaign design: Justin Amash’s third-party bid

Rep. Justin Amash, the former Michigan Republican who left the party last year on the 4th of July to become an independent, announced an exploratory committee for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee late last Tuesday.

The logo on Amash’s new site uses the typeface Knockout. Rather than the traditional red and blue, Amash went with Americana-adjacent colors: purple and yellow.

Knockout is from Hoefler & Co., the type foundry behind several typefaces used in politics, including Gotham used by former President Obama, and Ringside, used by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Amash changed his party affiliation to Libertarian on Friday, becoming the first-ever Libertarian member of Congress. The Party’s most recent presidential candidates — former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia — were both previously Republican.

Nike is donating 30,000 pairs of shoes to medical workers

Nike announced Monday that it’s partnering with the nonprofit Good360 in the U.S. to donate footwear, apparel, and equipment to health systems and hospitals in Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York City, and the Veterans Health Administration.

Among their donations will be 30,000 pairs of their Nike Air Zoom Pulse, a shoe released last year specifically for health workers. The shoe was product tested at the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. It was designed to be cleaned easily and to be worn by nurses who walk as much as five miles during a 12-hour shift.

How we’re using emoji during the pandemic

Our emoji habits have changed under lockdown, according to an analysis of 68 million unique tweets by Emojipedia. While positive “smiley” emoji are still more popular than negative “smiley” emoji, their usage has fallen, from 29% in August 2019 to 28% in April 2020, while negative “smiley” emoji usage is slightly up.

“While it's impossible to determine all reasons behind any sentiment shift, this change could be a result of fewer positive tweets due to the current global pandemic, especially as the largest relative drop was seen in the most recent period,” Emojipedia said in a blog post.

Face with Tears of Joy 😂 remains the top emoji on Twitter, followed the Loudly Crying Face 😭. The third most-used emoji is a new entry into the top three: the Pleading Face 🥺, which saw an 83% increase, the largest percentage increase in the top ten. The second-largest percentage increase was the No. 8 entry Folded Hands 🙏, which is up nearly 25%.

Overall emoji usage is up, with 19% of tweets containing at least one emoji, compared with 17% of tweets containing one back in August 2019.

Why is the spacing weird in these Trump campaign surveys?

ICYMI, I wrote about letter spacing inconsistencies in the Trump campaign’s online surveys.

I’ve been checking to see if the spacing issue would be fixed after I reached out to the campaign for comment or after I published my story, but it has not. Several readers have pointed out that it seems to be an issue with ligatures, when two or more characters are joined in a single character, which seems likely since both inconsistencies involved the letters F and I. You can read the story here.