UNI survey examines most effective Democratic presidential campaign song

UNI NEWS SERVICES - What is the best national campaign song going into 2020?  According to a group of students at the University of Northern Iowa, it is Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign song, “High Hopes,” by Panic! at the Disco.

Darrell King, a UNI graduate student, and Sarina Chen, a UNI professor of mass communication, conducted a survey of 122 undergraduate students in December 2019.  Students were asked to select their favorite campaign song from a list of 21 campaign songs used by Democratic candidates. In the survey, Buttigieg's campaign song, “High Hopes,” by Panic! at the Disco, received the most votes, 22%, followed by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” by Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye, 18%; Sen. Bernie Sanders's “Power to the People,” by John Lennon, 12%; and  Sen. Elizabeth Warren's “9 to 5,” by Dolly Parton, 11%.

“Campaign songs are an effective vehicle to draw attention to a candidate and illustrate a candidate's platform, as the students' comments indicated,” Chen said. “Therefore, campaign songs would not only bolster existing support, but also increase the scale and amount of support, by drawing voters' attention to a candidate and their platform.” 

The study only examined the songs of Democractic presidential nominees because President Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee and any potential Republican challengers did not list official campaign songs, Chen said.

Students liked Buttigieg's song choice, "High Hopes," because it is a motivational song indicating Buttigieg's, as well as the voters' high hopes for the country. Students said the song represents dreams, goals, hopes, working hard and is a good anthem for the US. In addition, the song is a current chart topper, and students said it appeals most to young voters.  

Students liked Gabbard's song choice, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," because it is an optimistic song describing America as constantly climbing a social and political mountain and conquering obstacles. In addition, with a "you can't stop me" vibe, the song shows Gabbard's willingness to solve all problems, no matter what the hurdles are, students said. And because the song is a classic, students said it relates well to voters across various generations.

Students like Sanders's song choice, "Power to the People,"  because the song is catchy with the most powerful message of all campaign songs. They said the song indicates that the power to change the world resides in the people. Students said it is fitting as it embodies Sanders's entire campaign and matches up best with Sanders's fighting personality. It is an effective song to play at Sanders's rallies, students said.

Students like Warren's song choice, "9 to 5," because it is a feel-good "girl power" song and shows Warren's goal to create jobs. In addition, students said the song indicates that to build a better country for all, we need a working class movement. Students said it also shows that Warren is not just a talking head on TV, instead, Warren has a working class mentality, and she works just like the rest of us.