Thursday was a watershed day in for political technology: Senator Mark Udall used an emoji in a press release, for likely the first time in history.
Emoji was created in the mid-1990s in Japan, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the ideograms exploded in global popularity. That year, Apple’s released a new operating system that allowed users to see emoji through email and text messaging. Since then, it’s become a part of many millennials’ digital lives.
Senator Udall, a Democrat, is vulnerable in Colorado. Recent polls show that he is leading his opponent, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner by just two points: Udall’s campaign is working to change the tides by convincing voters that Gardner is a carbon copy of Udall’s previous opponent, Ken Buck, a right-wing extremist whom Udall was leading by four points. What better way than to attack Gardner with a heart symbol?
Udall’s spokesman Chris Harris (who sent the emoji email), told The Daily Beast that the heart symbol “just seemed like the shortest, simplest and clearest way to show that on issue after issue, Cory Gardner is following the Ken Buck playbook.” Harris explained to The Daily Beast that he and Senator Udall do not communicate with one another via emoji. “I can say that this is my first time [using emoji] in an email.” As to whether or not Udall himself uses Emoji, Harris said that he does not.
“It was a game time call, and I went with it.”