Hillary's 'Everyday Pantsuit Tee': How cheeky tees and tchotchkes pay big political dividends(Read article summary)
Presidential campaign supporter material has grown exponentially over the decades. It's so much more than just lapel buttons and bumper stickers.
Lapel pins and bumper stickers? That's so 2012.
Step right up to the Hillary Clinton online shop, a cheeky assortment of campaign goods that allows consumer-voters to not just vote Hillary, but eat, drink, and wear Hillary.
The 'it' item? A $30 "Everyday Pantsuit Tee," a red T-shirt (unisex!) with a screen-printed suit, pearls, and Hillary pin on the front. On the back, the words, "Pantsuit Up."
The cotton tee, a homage to Clinton's "everyday Americans" campaign theme, encapsulates decades of pantsuit jokes (her Twitter bio, describes her as "...FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado").
There's also a $25 pint glass with the words “made from 100% shattered glass ceiling," and a $55 throw pillow, with the phrase “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” cross-stitched on it. “The perfect touch for any home, whether it’s 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. or simply Pennsylvania,” the description reads.
Rounding out the tongue-in-cheek collection is a caucus crewneck, a canvass canvas bag, and beach-ready think tank.
Of course, as with anything in politics, a T-shirt is never just a T-shirt.
No, it's part of a grand campaign scheme, first pioneered by Clinton's former foe, President Obama, who introduced the concept of charging supporters for campaign paraphernalia rather than giving it away.
With each tee, tote, and tank Clinton's campaign sells, it boosts the number of low-dollar donors, a figure campaigns tout to prove their support among "everyday Americans." It's also a way to collect valuable consumer-voter information, which can later be used to appeal for volunteers and donations.
Campaign gear can help the 2016 candidates create a brand, and may even help create more proactive, mobilized supporters.
"Research shows that the more effort or expense people have gone to for an earlier commitment – for example, purchasing a yard sign – the more likely they are to come to believe strongly in that commitment and to remain consistent with it," social psychologist and expert on persuasion Robert Cialdini told the Huffington Post.
Selling cheeky tees and tchotchkes, it turns out, pays big political dividends.
Which is why Clinton isn't the only one hawking campaign goods.
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, a 2016 presidential hopeful himself, is giving Hillary a run for her money.
For $99.95, Paul backers can buy “Hillary’s Hard Drive,” a "100% genuine erased clean email server," according to the product description.
Paul doesn't stock pantsuit tees but he does have a "Liberty not Hillary" eye chart tee (Paul is an ophthalmologist by training). There's also "The NSA Knows I bought this Rand Paul T-shirt" T-shirt, and a "Don't drone me, bro," T-shirt.