The dreaded 404 error is the last sign on a dead-end road, the lines of code telling you “that page doesn’t exist.”
It’s also a place where campaign teams drop a bit of levity for flustered supporters who have lost their way. These mementos are mostly unnecessary — much as when a carpenter paints the back of a piece of furniture. Most people will never see them.
Below is a completely subjective ranking of presidential campaigns’ error pages. In case you’re wondering, yes, we did this last election cycle. Here’s how the 2016 presidential candidates measured up.
Some production notes: Participation awards go to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Tim Ryan, author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang for having the bare minimum of a 404 error page without the flair needed to make it on the list.
Schultz built Starbucks into the empire it is today, and he’s been considering a run for president as an independent. Schultz starts off the list with a simple — if predictable — reference to what he’s known for.
Could you imagine having a beer with the New York Democrat? Well, now you can visualize the scene.
Bullock didn’t qualify for the first Democratic debates, but his 404 page does qualify for these rankings.
15. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper has another play on words for his campaign’s 404 page with a photo that could have run in Vanity Fair.
14. Former congressman John Delaney
Delaney appears to be saying he was born to run for president with this Bruce Springsteen-themed page.
The Colorado Democrat is the only candidate to use a family photo and a good dad joke. He announced in early May, becoming the 21st major candidate in the Democratic field.
The 37-year-old has what appears to be a simple outtake from photos for his campaign site.
11. Sen. Cory Booker
The New Jersey Democrat took an approach similar to Buttigieg’s — they’re practically making the same faces — but we give Booker the edge for at least trying to be funny in the text.
GIFs capture moments in our nation’s politics in ways other mediums fall to grasp. Consider a few examples from the past. The California Democrat’s campaign team seems to appreciate that with this 404 page.
Take a wrong turn on Sanders’s campaign site and you’re left with this GIF of Sanders debating Clinton at a “PBS NewsHour” event in 2016. It’s simple, it’s unapologetic, it fits the candidate.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s campaign took the time to embed a segment of a “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update in which Kate McKinnon (playing Warren) turns the tables to start questioning Colin Jost about his salary on the late-night show.
If you didn’t already know: There’s a Tumblr dedicated to photographs of Biden eating ice cream.
Clearly, the Biden campaign knows about his life online as a meme — the aviators, the ice cream and the many references on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”
As a born-and-raised Minnesotan, Klobuchar sticks close to her roots with a phrase common in the upper Midwest (by way of Scandinavia). Klobuchar is the only candidate on the list with a 404 page using just text — no GIFs or funny photos, just the basics. And it works.
Trump’s 2020 campaign delivers a crowd-pleaser with a jab at Hillary Clinton and her 2016 bid for president. It is a bit confusing to land on an image of Clinton, American flags waving behind her, but the joke settles in over time.
According to Beto for America, “There’s opportunity everywhere” — which is why O’Rourke is buffing out the back bumper of a Lincoln on his 404 error page. You’re there by mistake but, while you’re there, why not buy a bumper sticker?
That’s the type of two-for-one deal that earns you a spot on the top half of the list.
Self-deprecation is not what one would expect from a campaign, which is why this sits at No. 3. The Massachusetts Democrat is an underdog in the race and, with more than 20 candidates running, name recognition is going to be paramount. On its error page, his campaign jokingly acknowledges this is not his strong suit.
It’s hard to beat a portrait of a surfing bear, especially a portrait done by the candidate.
Inslee paints polar bears and snow-capped mountains and even illustrates children’s books that he writes with his wife, Trudi, for their three grandchildren.
It all may have something to do with Inslee’s appreciation for the outdoors. As a candidate, Inslee has called climate change “the greatest threat to our existence” and the issue will be a main focus of his campaign.
But what beats a surfing bear? A very good girl named Penny.
If you end up lost on Swalwell’s campaign site, his black Lab will bring you back home. The icing on the cake: A floating bust of Penny will follow your mouse as you navigate around the screen.