Legendary SUSU elections pundit “Shiny” David Howell has cast his expert eye over the campaign spending of candidates – read on for his analysis…
The field may be slightly thinner than previously anticipated, but there’s still seven Presidential candidates seeking the top job, and with all the other races down the ballot too, none stand a chance of victory without campaign impact. In recent years, it has generally been the case that the more of your campaign budget you spend early, the better you’re going to do in the vote – because those materials then get seen all week. There’s a particular benefit to early poster spending – for instance, in 2011, all but one winning candidate spent more than half of their budget on posters.
Joe Hart apparently got the memo. As of Monday afternoon, he had already spent every penny of his £60 campaign budget – and 90% of it had gone on posters. That £54 went on two large batches – including £24 on four monster A0 posters, at £6 each. An equivalent area of A3 posters would have cost only £2.40, but would it have the same level of impact? Could someone create a series of eight posters that connect with each other to create an approximation of an A0 poster at £3.60 less? The rest of his money, incidentally, was for advertising on the Soton Tab.
As discussion continues over the timing of the 24-hour library announcement, the man who pressed for the policy has also been showing his campaign smarts with big early spending. David Mendoza-Wolfson ended the weekend with precisely 61p left in his locker, with £24.90 on posters and almost as much on a thousand flyers. That’s a new strategy – I had the impression flyers had previously been banned – and an interesting one to watch.
Jed Dummer-Marshall has also gone all-in on the poster plan, with every penny of his £54 spent to date going on posters, while early favourite Marcus Burton has gone for a balanced strategy – spending most of his money early, but keeping a tenner handy for the final stretch, and combining posters with painted bedsheets and a TV ad. Doing what your rivals aren’t is also a good strategy, one that Dean Jones carried to VP Sports Development victory in 2012, and the classic bedsheet blitz isn’t as prevalent in this race as in many others in the past.
Every other candidate is keeping a lot of powder dry, with pirate-themed campaigner Michael Andrews leaving £40 on deck (though he has one piece of expenditure confirmed but not yet revealed). Both Andrews and Laura Mason have spent just £15 on posters so far, and recent electoral history suggests that is a major tactical error. However, it is said that history is there to be rewritten, and that it is written by the winners. Will Mason’s dispersal of spending across time and format put her in a position to write a new chapter in the SUSU electoral story?
Are posters the best shout for campaign budgeting? What else do you notice most? Let us know in comments.