Friday, August 15, 2014

Swag - Do you need it? Like a hole in the head

Swag - you need it like a hole in the head

Every campaign goes through an internal debate - to buy "swag" or not. What is "swag?" It's the collateral stuff most people associate with political campaigns, buttons, bumper stickers, cute items with the candidate's name on them, like tee shirts, aprons, mugs, even pencils.

Someone in every campaign will insist you must have some. You need to have this material so the voters see your name everywhere and then surely you will be the one they vote for on election day.

Because you gave them a  tee shirt. Yeah. Ok, swag is fun. Bumper stickers are cool when you see them on a car in a parking lot or driving ahead of you. But they are neither necessary nor particularly useful.

Your name will be remembered by voters who get your mail in their mailboxes (and more than one time), see your ads on their favorite cable TV shows and talk to a live person at their door. They will remember more than your name, but what you stand for, and that you took the time to explain it to them.

Swag, including signs, are only reinforcers. Too many campaigns start off with swag, and then go, "whoops, how come there's no money left for that last mailer or handout, or web ad."

"Oh yeah, the tee shirts."

If you really really must have it

If you really must have swag, keep it simple and cheap. Buy rolls of stickers from your local union print shop, not expensive buttons. Make sure they are used too. You can get 1000 for about $175. Make sure your volunteer coordinator has enough to slap on every volunteer on every walk.  Have them at every event and get people to wear them; give the extras to wear on thier daily rounds.

The candidate can have a special button or pin made for him/herself that announces "I'm running!"

House signs must be placed strategically on lawns where they will be easily seen.  People will know that someone in their neighborhood supports you. Don't get into "sign wars" with your opposition. It's just what they'd like to see - you spending all your time and money on more signs rather than more mail. Buy your signs from a union vendor who specializes in campaign swag (avert your eyes from all the other stuff on display). I use Mycampaignstore.com in Indiana. They're inexpensive, fast and include the wires for putting up signs in yards.

The take-away

Use swag, including signs, only after you budget for the important stuff, mail, TV and radio (in larger races), web ads, handouts and staff.  Swag is fun, everyone likes it, but as the old adage goes "Yard signs can't vote." The same goes for buttons, bumper stickers and tee shirts. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Money trumps all in elections - RIP Proposition 49

The California Supreme Court has spoken - As of now, they will not allow an advisory measure asking our legislature to ask Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizen's United decision. You know, the one that said corporations are people and money is speech.  This measure was sponsored by former Secretary of State candidate and former head of Common Cause, Derek Cressman, a true reformer.

The reasoning of the Court is that the law is unclear if such advisory measures are allowed under State law. (Note: Election Code section 9603 specifically allows advisory measures in local elections.) They may revisit the issue in time for 2016 election, but for now, Proposition 49 is dead.

Only one justice dissented, the Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. She noted that a similar advisory measure was passed in 1892 that called for the direct election of U.S. Senators, something we all take for granted now. Cantil-Sakauye is, interestingly enough, a Republican appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So, does this mean we will have even more Corporate Democrats in the Legislature as time goes on? Cynics would say the answer is obvious. Who else can afford to run without their own Daddy Warbucks to foot the bill?