Thinking Citizen Blog — Alvin the Beagle (Warnock), Bailey the Golden Retriever (Warren), Checkers the Cocker Spaniel (Nixon)

John Muresianu
4 min readFeb 28, 2021


Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Alvin the Beagle (Warnock), Bailey the Golden Retriever (Warren), Checkers the Cocker Spaniel (Nixon)

Never underestimate the power of a pet to change political history. We would not have a Democratic Senate today without an assist from Alvin, the Beagle. And Richard Nixon would never have become Vice President, not to mention President, without the help of a black-and-white cocker spaniel puppy named Checkers. Elizabeth Warren’s Golden Retriever was not enough to close the likeability gap with Joe Biden, but would she have done nearly as well without him? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “While there is no singular factor responsible for victories this narrow — Mr. Warnock won by less than 100,000 votes out of roughly 4.5 million and the other Democratic senator, John Ossoff, won by even less — there is bipartisan agreement that the beagle played an outside role in cutting through the clutter in two contests that broker every spending record.” (New York Times)

2. “The puppy ads got people talking…It made it harder to caricature him because they humanized him.” (Brian C. Robinson, a Georgia-based Republican strategist)

3. ‘The beagle spots were the brainchild of Adam Magnus the Warnock campaign’s lead admaker, who wanted to find away — through humor — to inoculate Warnock against explicit attacks and implicit ones.” (New York Times)

NB: “The dog needed to be very cute, somewhat relatable and he needed to be able to hold the dog.” (Adam Magnus)


1. Accused of misusing campaign contributions, Nixon defended himself in a televised speech viewed by 60 million Americans which generated millions of telegrams in his support.

2. Nixon underscored his humble origins and modest means but the climax was when he “explained that no matter what happened as a result of the controversy, his young daughters, Julie and Tricia, were keeping one campaign gift: a black-and-white puppy from a supporter in Texas.”

3. “Not only did Nixon stay on the ticket, but he and Eisenhower swept the election that November.”

NB: The Checkers speech was reminiscent of FDR’s 1944 “Fala Speech” in which the President masterfully defended himself against attacks that he had “accidentally left (his dog) Fala behind on the Aleutian Islands while on tour there and had sent a a US Navy destroyer to retrieve him at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayers.”


1. Senator Warren’s problem was that she always seemed too angry. She was too scary.

2. A poll in 2019 found that only 4% of likely voters found Warren “likable.”

3. Bringing in Bailey was a stroke of genius. In the words of Bruce Mann, the Senator’s husband, “Within 24 hours, the Des Moines Register had endorsed Elizabeth. You be the judge: correlation or causation. But I think Bailey is a natural closer.”

NB: In the end, Bailey was not enough to close the likability gap with Joe Biden. Was the problem that Bailey was too big?

How Alvin the Beagle Helped Usher In a Democratic Senate

Bailey (dog)

“Likability” ratings in a recent New Hampshire poll show just how tough female candidates have it

United States presidential pets

Checkers: Best-Known Dog to Never Have Lived in White House

Here is a link to the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.



John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.