Friday, February 15, 2008

Dead Heat

In looking over the electoral choices from the view of a copy editor and headline writer, I predict this election will be even closer and more divisive than the 2000 race between Bush and Gore.

In a six over six, 1 column, in Walbaum Condensed Bold, I can get "Obama" and "Clinton" at identical 44 points. "McCain" comes in no bigger than 42 points at that column width, but the difference is meaningless, since a purist would not deviate from the rule of six, and therefore it's either a 42 point, at which all three fit, or a 48 point, at which none of them does.

"Huckabee" is hopeless; you can't get him bigger than 32 points, which means 30 point to a purist. "Hillary" is a tempting 46 points, especially because there seems to be air between the L and the A in WCB, which may be a defect in the type design. You might be able to pass that for a 48.

So, advantage Hillary, if headline-writers rule the world, as some insist we do.

However, if I go to a 5-over-6 grid, the kind many contemporary newspapers use for their front pages, I can get "Obama" into a whomping 54-point bold! "Clinton" (and "McCain") top out at 48 point (on the six scale). The little fractions of difference in letter width and kerning that didn't show up on a six grid make all the difference when you bump it up. Which often is the case.

Little differences, magnified by front-page exposure, give Obama the edge.

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