Predicting the outcome of the 2012 election with a highly scientific analysis of wall doodles.

Presidential elections draw out all sorts of ridiculous polling methods. One steakhouse in D.C. will announce the presumptive 2012 winner based on how many people buy candidate-themed burgers. Then there's the tactic of examining whose Halloween mask sells better, which actually has been startlingly accurate.

Here's another approach not sanctioned by Real Clear Politics: Who has a more impressive graffiti presence? Meaning, which candidate has better motivated street artists to spend hours of their time splashing his likeness on an alley wall somewhere?

To judge from a keyword search of Flickr for the candidate's last name plus "graffiti," Barack Obama wins by sheer number alone: 4,766 results for him, 237 for Mitt Romney. Granted, Obama has had several years on Romney. But he also had a massive 2008 spike in graffiti right before and after his election, a burst of artistic activity that the conservative hopeful lacks even this late in the game.

What does it say about Romney's personality that people can't get motivated enough to pick up a can and spray his face? Not even in a negative way unlike Bush, who inspired leagues of artists to mock him in the streets from America to Brazil to Bulgaria, Romney is virtually a non-presence in the urban art scene.

Obama's paint warriors aren't doing him any favors, though. Their are some seriously bizarro and inept depictions out there of our commander in chief. So to measure by artistic skill level, I think Romney enjoys a slight edge. Let's take a look at some of the graffiti for both men:

(Mike McCaffrey/Flickr)

This portrait of Obama in San Francisco makes it look like someone inflated his head with an airhose, then smeared Vaseline on it. That sidelong glance also makes him look shifty. However, Flickr commenters seem to love it, with one writing, "I have seen a good bit of Obama graffiti over the past year, but this one is probably the finest specimen to date," and another, "I also must agree, this is really good."

(Dylan Otto Krider/Flickr)

With that smurfy hue and hand ring, it's like Doctor Manhattan is dropping his first hiphop album. Mural is in downtown Denver.

(Michael Hicks/Flickr)

What. The. Hell. I'm not convinced this is Obama, and neither is the photographer, but those ears are persuasive. Located in the Marin Headlands, north of San Francisco.

(Franco Folini/Flickr)

Someone went a little crazy with this mural in San Francisco's Caledonia Alley. Is there an Obama in that enthusiastic vomit of color?

Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr)

Cripes, this Obama will haunt your dreams forever. From the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Now for the Romney camp...

(Tyler Merbler/Flickr)

Real skill and humor are evident in this apparent wheatpaste under a freeway in Los Angeles. It almost looks like a Bill Plympton cartoon.

(Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr)

It's hard to tell if this mural in France is pro- or anti-Romney (it is pro-yelling), but it's nicely executed.

(Young Yun/Flickr)

Nice: Romney takes his dog for a ride in Manhattan.

(Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr)

And Paul Ryan can lay claim to at least one piece of urban art, even if it does show his eyes bleeding.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Communal space at classroom in Espoo, Finland.
    Design

    Why Finland Is Embracing Open-Plan School Design

    The country’s educational successes are undeniable, but simply demolishing school walls alone won’t necessarily replicate them.

  4. photo: Chilean police clash with anti-government demonstrators during a protest in Santiago, Chile.
    Equity

    What’s Behind the Wave of Urban Protests?

    The slums of the world’s growing cities have become staging grounds for demonstrations against corruption, inequality, and municipal dysfunction.

  5. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

×