We’re all about dressing up as a means of self-expression, so why not not bring your candidate of choice into your wardrobe? The problem is, most presidential merch is bad. Like, really really bad. It’s as if sartorial aesthetics aren’t a priority for the people vying for the most powerful seat in the world.
That said, we did some digging to find the very best piece of merch from every candidate in tonight’s democratic debate. Just like the debate itself, it’s a crowded field, and some certainly don’t belong. While some candidates have sleeper hits in their offerings, others are woefully off the mark across the board. But because presidential viability is completely irrelevant, some of the most unlikely candidates actually have some of the best pieces. With that in mind, we put together a ranking of all 12 candidates’ merch, from worst to best.
12. Tulsi Gabbard
The U.S. Representative’s merch game is so dull we had to peg a button as the “best” piece. The gradient is beautiful, without a doubt, but when a lil button is the best thing you’ve got going for you, it’s not looking good.
11. Tom Steyer
Admit it, you did not know who Tom Steyer is. And this shirt isn’t going to change that.
10. Amy Klobuchar
We’re getting slight Farmland Farm vibes here, but without any of the character. Somehow, the rest of her merch is even duller.
9. Joe Biden
Get it, Joe like coffee? It’s semi cute, but you’d expect the Democratic front runner to have more dynamic merch. Then again, excitement isn’t something you’d associate with Biden’s near-foregone campaign.
8. Julián Castro
Gotta give kudos for the trading card idea here, but the execution isn’t quite there.
7. Beto O’Rourke
Anyone remember Theophilus London’s “LVRS” hats? With Beto’s efforts to be the ~cool~ candidate, we wouldn’t be surprised if that was his team’s inspiration.
6. Andrew Yang
In a vacuum, a hat that just says “Math” on it slaps. But Yang’s reinforcement of the model minority myth is more harmful than it is cheeky, so we’ve gotta knock some points off.
5. Elizabeth Warren
This is how you mix the perfect message with the perfect piece of apparel. Put this on while you put the rich on the menu for dinner. Get Here.
4. Kamala Harris
Simply put, this photo is hard. It could be a little smaller, but it’s hard to nitpick too much when it comes to presidential merch. Slap on a signature and this could easily be a Supreme tee.
3. Corey Booker
Instead of running from this cringe-worthy tweet, Booker is embracing it and slapping it on a mug. File this under “so bad it’s good.”
2. Bernie Sanders
Sander’s unkempt hair is iconic, even without a headband. Putting it on a fanny pack is the perfect amount of kitsch and brings back the serious grandpa vibes for the bag that’s now become ubiquitous.
1. Pete Buttigieg
Now that’s how you get people to start pronouncing your name correctly. There’s something about this cream, sans-serif font that just looks perfect on the royal hat. Buttigieg probably ain’t gonna win the nomination, but he’s got the merch game on lock.