Let’s focus on what I think is one of the most useless things that a local political candidate can spend money on during election season: political campaign trinkets.
Just to be clear, I consider any kind of novelty item that you print your name on and give to voters for free to be a political campaign trinket: pens, notepads, balloons, buttons, stickers, calendars, fly swatters, fans, hats, pins, magnets . . . the list could go on and on.
If you want to buy cheap political campaign materials like these, online or elsewhere, you might want to reconsider what you’re spending your money on.
The misconception that political campaign trinkets help local candidates win elections stems from a similar phenomenon as the campaign billboard obsession. Namely, a lot of unbeatable incumbent politicians and shoo-in candidates buy loads of silly campaign trinkets, so new candidates think that they need to do the same thing to win.
To reiterate: yah, these shoo-in candidates win re-election time and time again while handing out endless amounts of lame campaign junk to people at the county fair and local spaghetti dinners. But the fact is that they would win whether they handed out cheap campaign garbage or not.
Handing out political trinkets is yet another example of the kind of lazy campaigning that makes you feel good about yourself (“hey, everyone is taking a flyswatter with my name on it!”) but that does very little to win a majority of votes on election day.
And the money you waste on the campaign junk isn’t the only problem with this kind of strategy, either. If you’re purchasing trinkets, then the odds are that you’re planning on distributing them at places where you simply shouldn’t waste your time if you want to run an effective local campaign.
It might be fun to stand around and shake hands at county fairs and spaghetti dinners, but it’s certainly not the place to do any effective campaigning. The real gains are made in neighborhoods, knocking on door after door, making phone calls, writing letters . . . and similar difficult, labor-intensive tasks.
So please, skip the campaign trinkets and spend your money on more effective materials, like targeted direct mail printing and postage.
Then again, if you do buy a bunch of trinkets for your campaign, you’ll have plenty of cool stuff with your name on it to play with after you lose your race.