Monday, September 22, 2008

No sign

I was reading this story about how some Obama organizers were in a minor panic because they were not able to get campaign signs. There was a concern that they were losing the ground game because there were more McCain signs around.

Quinn, whose site is a must read if you're interested in polling during the US presidential election, nicely smacks these people around. Signs make people feel good and give them a nice souvenir, but accomplish little when it comes to getting people out to vote or, you know, actually winning the election.

However, while reading Quinn's amusing post, I had another thought. One of the things I'm absolutely dreading when I get home is the staggering volume of political signs that will be littered everywhere. I imagine when I drive down the parkway I'll have to deal with the usual bullshit of passing one political sign for every second the car is in motion.

But here's the thing, if political campaigns hate signs because they're a waste of money and are a tremendous drain on volunteers' time in ordering and distributing them, then why do so many campaigns go absolutely batshit insane over them? Yes, I understand the weird psychology that goes along with them - that if your opponent has more signs up than you, he or she must be doing better than you are. Retarded, but there you go.

So can I suggest something? It can be at the provincial or federal level, I don't really care. And yeah, sign makers will hate this, but they can fucking deal. A ban on all political signs on public property. In fact, the only place you can advertise is on private property. If an individual wants to stick a sign up on his lawn, go mad. If a business owner wants to put a sign up in her window, no problem. A politician wants to stick a sign up on an island with a stoplight on it, no way.

Less hassle for politicians, a prettier looking area for the electorate and sign makers, well, they'll take a hit. But if it means not having to look at 100,000 signs while I'm home, I'm all about it.

Last Five
1. Talk about the passion - REM
2. Lord, I'm discouraged - The Hold Steady
3. Experiment IV - Kate Bush
4. Suzanne (live) - Tori Amos
5. Paddy's lament - Flogging Molly

1 comment:

Simon said...

You're right: signs don't vote. But that's not why campaigns use signs. It's because of campaign economics.

On a local campaign, say provincial or municipal, a campaign will seldom spend over $10-12k. In most cases, it's around $5k or so, especially for municipal but also provincial.

Within that budget you need to get your name, face and ideas out the best you can to as many people as you can as many times as you can.

Within that budget, you can't hope for TV ads. You might be able to have some radio ads, but not too many. You can buy some print ads but unless you buy often, large and colour, impact is minimal.

So you spend money on printing and distributing flyers and you buy signs.

At $50 or so for a large colour sign (4x8) and $2-3 for a 1-colour 2x2 (in volume), you don't get more advertising bang for the buck than plain old campaign signs.

For $5000, you can literaly plaster St. John's with signs.