AP Lang–Election 2012 Political Cartoons

Have some political fun over the weekend! Here’s what you get to do:

  1. Choose one political cartoon from below.
  2. Choose one of the two of the three questions about political cartoons to answer:
  3. Respond to another student’s answers about a different cartoon. This means in the end,  you should have analyzed one cartoon and responded to someone else’s analysis about a second cartoon.

**Please use the captions that I’ve written to refer to each cartoon. Note that these are my captions, not the cartoonists’, nor are they part of the original artwork.

**Have fun! Be respectful! Remember that this is NOT a political discussion, but an analysis of a visual text.

  • What is the literal interpretation of the cartoon?
  • What symbols are present? What do they represent?
  • What is the cartoonist’s argument?

Driving America

Finish Line


Oh Well

See more election cartoons at: The Washington Post


83 thoughts on “AP Lang–Election 2012 Political Cartoons

  1. “Driving America”
    1) Gov. Romney is in a dog kennel which is strapped to the roof of a car that Pres. Obama is driving, while music notes float out the window.
    2) Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama. They represent the Presidential Election from yesterday, and how Romney lost and Obama won.

  2. In response to cartoon “Oh well”
    2. Romney’s wife smiling, to me, symbolizes that she is kind of frozen in public appearance mode. Even though he lost she still has a smile on her face. Everything is shambles in the background symbolizes that it’s over and everyone is going home.
    3. The cartoonists arguement is that this was just another step for Romney to display his power and that losing was just like a “better luck next time” kind of deal.

    • I agree with your thought about the cartoonists argument. I looked at this cartoon yesterday and really didn’t understand what could be the argument, but yours seems very logical. I think by Romney stating he has “250 million dollars” his loss wasn’t to much of a burden because he is still very rich.

    • Your argument makes sense, according to this cartoon losing was not a big deal for Romney. I like how you included that it was his wife smiling, when I first looked at the cartoon I was not sure who it was but your answer cleared that part up for me (thanks!). Also I think that him stating that he still has all that money represents that losing the race for president was not much of a loss for him because he still has so much, more of an “oh well” than a real burden.

    • I agree that the argument is that Romney just used the election to show off his power, but I think that it how much Romney cares about becoming president.

    • Maddy,
      I like your argument. It is something I wouldn’t have really thought of. However, I don’t see, in your argument, certain parts of the literal interpretation that may be necessary for a better argument. I feel like the caption about money is a major part of the author’s argument. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t have put it in.

    • I didn’t really understand this cartoon earlier but I really like how you stated the part about his wife who I didn’t even know was the woman in the cartoon. I also agree with your literal interpretation but I feel like it is lacking some things like how Tori said the money part of the cartoon was important but its missing here.

  3. Lindsay McCue, Period 6
    In response to “Finish Line”
    1. Obama (riding a donkey) and Romney (riding an elephant) are near the finish line of a race, with Obama slightly ahead of Romney.
    2. The elephant represents republicans, which Romney follows, and the donkey represents democrats, which Obama follows. Obama being slightly in front reprents that the race was very close, with him as the victor.

    • I agree with you analysis of Obama winning slightly. I think if i analyzed this cartoon though, I would have mentioned Obama sticking his chin out to ensure he wins and would have noted the facial expressions of each candidate

    • Good job Lindsay. I like that you identified which animal represents which political party, and which presidential candidate follows what party. I think that mentioning the size differences between the animals would have been a good detail to point out. The size differences show that even the little guys can win over the big guys.

    • Good analysis on the symbols. I think that also there was a hint that the donkey was winning because it was smaller and faster, which may be a metaphor of the parties themselves.

  4. “Finish Line”
    1. Obama, on a donkey, is racing Romney, who is on an elephant, for president with Obama just ahead of Romney for the win.
    2. The elephant and the donkey stand for the political party each candidate is with. The finish line and the race represent the “race for president” people call it. Having Obama just ahead symbolizes how close the election was but in the end Obama won.

  5. “Oh Well”
    Literal Interpretation: Somber Gov. Romney tells his smiling wife he has “250 million dollars,” while a man carries out boxes of campaign materials, with two leftover “R” posters, and an electronic device charging.
    Argument: The author’s argument is that even though the race is over, and Gov. Romney lost, his life has not changed or become worse because he is still a very rich man.

    • That’s a great idea but i think since his wife’s expression is such a huge part of the physical space in the cartoon, it might have something to do with the argument as well.

  6. In response to “Driving America”
    1.) Romney is in a dog kennel strapped to the roof of a car that Obama is driving while whistling.
    3.) I believe that the cartoonist is making a statement regarding the candidates’ method of campaigning, saying that Obama spent most of his campaign/debate/commercial time to criticize, degrade, and insult Romney – or in the picture’s case, treat him like a dog – while Obama sat back and watched his plan unfold; hence the whistling and seemingly carefree expression.

  7. Finish Line
    2.) Donkey: represents the democratic party, Elephant: The Republican party Finish line: Presidential Race
    3.)The cartoonist is saying that The two Candidates were so close that it could have gone either way, until Obama pulled ahead

  8. “2.0”
    1.) A sketched drawing of President Obama gazing beyond with a serious look on his face, and the caption by his head reads, “History 2.0.”
    2.) The caption “History 2.0” might symbolize a new version of history that Obama is accomplishing. Also the President’s somber expression and eyes that are looking beyond could suggest he is looking towards a brighter future for America.

  9. “Driving America”
    1.) Obama is happily driving a car and whistling, while a somber Romney is in a dog kennel strapped to the top of the roof.
    2.) Romney and Obama symbolize the presidential election.
    And Romney sitting in the dog kennel symbolizes that he know has to “obey” Obama’s orders because he lost the election.

    • Jenelle, I agree with what you inferred were the symbols of “Driving America,” but I might add on how Romney could feel caged to Obama’s policies. Also relating to the joke that Romney put his dog on the roof of his car, Romney now symbolizes his dog and Obama is putting him in the “dog house” by being elected.

      • Ohhh thanks Bridgette this cartoon makes so much more sense now! I forgot that Romney had said that he tied a dog on top of his car. I also think that Obama’s whistling and laid back sort of attitude conveyed through his face stands for how he is just relishing in his triumph over Romney.

  10. I agree with your argument Bridgette. When i first looked at this caption i didn’t really understand it but your argument seems very logical. Also looking into Obama’s eyes, I see some worry in them. He might be a little scared of what the future will have in store for America.

  11. “finish line”
    2. elephant: rebublicans
    ass: democrats
    Romney: Romney
    Obama: Obama
    finish line/racetrack: the presidential race
    3. The candidates were carried across the finish line, with obama winning, by their respective parties, with each candidate only as a front man, just as a jockey is a front man for the real winner: the race horse

  12. In response to “2.0”
    Literal Interpretation: Obama is looking off into the distance on a solid black background and to the left of him it says “History 2.0”
    Cartoonists Argument: The cartoonist is arguing that Obama made history as the first black president, and with a second term is doing this again
    Freddy Lienhard, Period 3

  13. in response to “oh Well”

    literal: romney and clinton are in an advertising office and romney says “oh well i still have 250 million dollars” while a worker in the back ground is packing his office.
    arguement: when you feel like you have endured a huge loss, someone is suffering worse.


    • I feel that the Cartoonist’s Arguement could also be that, although some losses have a huge impact on some people, they don’t always impact others in the same way. I feel that Romney is just blowing it off because the loss doesn’t affect him, as he still has a ton of money.

    • i agree with that argument how there is always someone in worse shape, but i think that the fact that it mentions his money is hinting that he is kinda self absorbed not thinking that there is someone in worse shape. Also i think that that is his wife not clinton

  14. History 2.0-
    Literal Interpretation: A black and white sketch of Obama’s upper half with a black background and, to the left, it says “History 2.0.”
    Symbols: Obama – represents the first black president in history
    History 2.0 – the “2.0” is implying that there was a 1.0 and that history is new and improved

  15. Finish Line
    Literal: Romney is on an elephant and obama is on a donkey and they are racing and obama won the race.
    symbols: The elephant supporting romney represents the republicans, and the donkey supporting obama represents the democrats

  16. “Driving America”
    1)Obama is driving a car with a smile on his face, with Romney looking annoyed in a dog kennel strapped to the roof of it, with music notes floating out of the window, with a caption “Driving America”.
    2)dog kennel- Romney lost, so is metaphorically dominated by Obama and is stuck.
    Car- Obama won so he has the ability to “drive America”
    Music notes- Obama is happy

  17. “finish line”
    1) literal interpretation- two men who appear to be Obama and Romney are racing towards a finish line, Romney is dressed in red and riding on an elephant while Obama is wearing blue and riding on a donkey and just in front of Romney, the caption underneath says “finish line”.
    2) symbols-donkey/blue= democratic party
    elephant/red=republican party
    red line=presidency

  18. 1)Literal Interpretation- two men who appear to be Obama and Romney are racing towards a finish line. Romney is dressed in red and riding on an elephant while Obama is wearing blue and riding on a donkey and just in front of Romney. The caption underneath says “finish line”
    2) symbols-donkey/blue=democratic party
    elephant/red=republican party
    red line=presidency

  19. “Driving America”
    2) Dog kennel= property, Obama’s smile=happiness and confidence, Romney’s expression= nervous for the future.
    3) Obama won the elections, and now he is confidant of the direction that the nation is going, but Romney is not.

  20. “Finish Line”
    Literal Interpretation: Romney, on an elephant, and Obama, on a donkey, are racing to the finish line. Obama has his chin over the line, showing he has won.
    Argument: The campaign was so close until the end, when Obama pulled forward at the last minute and beat out Romney.

  21. “Oh Well”
    Literal Interpretation: Romney and his wife, after losing the election, are talking about how they still have 250 million dollars.
    Argument: Even though Romney lost the election, he’s still filthy rich

  22. “Oh Well”
    literal interpretation: Romney saying,” that he still has a ton of money” to his wife, who has a ridiculous, fake smile on her face, both candidates are standing in an office with the election decorations supporting Romney being taken down.
    Argument: I think the cartoonist’s argument is that losing a presidential election is never the end of the world for the candidate due to their seemingly endless supply of money.

  23. “2.0”
    literal: A sketch of Obama looking off into the distance with a serious look on his face and ” History 2.0″ next to him.

    Argument: Obama made history as our first black president and is making history again with his second term(2.0)

  24. “Driving America”
    1) Obama is driving a tan caprice-like car, while contently humming a song. Romney is stuck in a cage on top of the car looking rather distraught about the whole thing.
    3) The cartoonist is arguing about how Obama wishes to drive America in a new direction, forcing the wealthier people (like Romney) in a new direction, essentially treating them as Romney had treated his own dog, Seamus, on a 12 hour trip to Canada.

    Danielle Pace, Period 6

  25. “Finish Line”
    1. Literal Interretation: Romne, on an elephant, is racing Obama, who is on a donkey, like a disc jockey, and Obama is in the lead.
    2. Symbols: elephant=republican
    how they’re riding=disc jockey

  26. Dani
    You really picked up on what was being said through the cartoon. I see what you mean about the driving in a direction, hence Obama driving, and that Romney caged signifies being farced to go along with it.

  27. @ Tori Webber (#5) I do believe your argument is correct on that one, and maybe that his wife is in a way happy that he did not win, as they still have their money, well she’s always smiling like that in pictures, so maybe it represents that things will stay pretty much the same for them.

    Danielle Pace period 6

  28. Bridgette Petzoldt Period 3

    “Finish Line”

    2) Red: Republican Votes
    Elephant: Republican Party
    Blue: Democrat Votes
    Donkey: Democratic Party
    Finish Line: The results of the Election
    Jokey in Red: Romney
    Jokey in Blue: Obama

    3) The artist of the cartoon is comparing the 2012 election to a close horse race by symbolically showing the similarities between the two. And how even though all the way through the election it was a close race, Obama pulled through with the win.

  29. Samantha Wilson, period 6
    1.The literal interpretation of this cartoon is a caricature of Obama dramatically standing in the shadows looking dramatically out at something with the title “history 2.0” positioned in the dark right side of the cartoon, where Obama does not stand.
    2.Symbols present are Obama and the phrase “History 2.0”. They represent a significant change in American history, and the updating of said history, respectively.

  30. Riley Morgan, Period 6
    “Oh Well”

    1) The literal Interpretation: A tired-looking Mitt Romney tells a lady “On the bright side, I do have 250 million dollars” as a messy room with Romney posters is being cleaned up

    2) The Cartoonist’s Argument: Even though Romney lost the Presidential Campaign, he still has 250 million dollars and will be more than fine

  31. “2.0”

    1.The literal interpretation is a black and white drawing of Obama staring off to his side and a caption next to him says, “history 2.0”.

    3. The argument could be that since being re-elected, Obama has made history once again by being the first black president who was also re-elected.

  32. Claire Coalwell, Period 6
    “Driving America”

    1)The literal interpretation is Obama driving a car happily with song notes coming out the window and Romney is in a cage or kennel that is strapped to the top of the car looking gloom.

    2)The cartoonists argument is that Obama won so he is in charge of choosing the direction of where America is going and has dominated Romney so he can’t do anything about it really.

  33. “Oh Well”
    Literal Interpretation: Romney is talking to his wife about the recent election saying “On the bright side I still have 250 Million dollars” while others work behind him cleaning up the campaign, there is a smart phone plugged into the wall and republican Romney/Ryan posters falling off the walls in the background.
    Argument: To make fun of the fact that Romney said he was all about the people but doesn’t live like most of the people with his quarter of a billion dollars, Romney seems to be self absorbed and not that disappointed by the loss.

  34. “Oh Well”
    Literal interpetation: Romney is in a room with his wife and someone who is cleaning up from his campain,he says”On the bright side i still have 250 million dollars”, there is a smart phone plugged in and old posters are starting to fall off the walls.
    Argument: Even though he spent all this time towards trying to win the presidency he did not particularly care about whether he won or lost he only wanted to look good while staying rich.

  35. “Finish Line”
    Obama is racing on a donkey and Romney is racing on an Elephant they are racing very closely.
    Donkey = Democrats
    Elephant = Republicans
    the mens vest = Romenys has his logo, Obama has his
    Obama is barely ahead representing how close the election was

  36. “Driving America”
    -Gov. Romney is in a dog kennel that is on the roof of a car that Obama is driving and listening to music.
    -The argument is that Obama won so he is in charge of driving america to where it needs to be.

  37. “Oh well”
    Literal interpretation: Romeny stands next to his creepy wife, in the background a downtrodden bboy holds a box full of Romney campaign merch, some romney campain posters are fgalling off of walls ion the background. a caption says” at least i have 250 million dollars”
    symbols present: the people are the Romney family. Posters being taken down represent Romney losing the presidency.

  38. Finish Line

    Literal Interpretation: Oboma and Romney seem to be racing on symbolic democratic and republican animals with obama in the lead, on a track. The argument of the author is using is that obama is in the lead of the presidential race compared to romney.

  39. “Driving America”
    1. Mitt Romney in a dog cage strapped to the top of Obama’s car.
    3. The artist is referencing the story that Romney similarly strapped his dog to his car. The artist is arguing that by winning, Obama made Romney seem like a dog.

  40. “Finish Line”
    Literal Interpretation: Obama is riding on a donkey and Romney is riding on an elephant in a race. Obama is crossing the finish line in front of Romney, but he is not winning by much.
    Argument: The presidential race was quite close, but Obama managed to pull ahead by the end. The elephant, symbolizing republicans, may also symbolize that the republican party may not have had the “endurance,” which would symbolize the strength of their views on certain topics, for the long campaign that the democratic party (the donkey) had, because literally elephants can’t run as fast as donkeys. Mostly the argument is that Obama was able to pull ahead of Romney right at the end of the race.

  41. In response to “Driving America”
    1. Obama is driving a car with Mitt Romney in a dog cage strapped to the top.
    3. I believe the cartoonist’s message is that Obama is caging up Romney and his ideas, and driving the “car” of America in the direction he wants it to go. There is no middle ground for him or Romney, or more broadly, Democrats and Republicans.

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