Traditional election campaign methods still key in the digital age: experts

Traditional election campaign methods still key in the digital age: experts
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Political parties put up election signs on streets to keep up with each other and to build momentum even though one expert says there is little data to prove this tactic has any impact on the parties’ winning chances.

The use of plastic and paper election signs shows how traditional campaign strategies are still important despite the rise of online efforts in recent elections, said Carleton University professor Jonathan Malloy.

“To get voters’ attention, you often have to go offline. You’d have to use physical signs, paper or plastic. You need some tangible, physical things,” he said.

“Putting a sign on the street, on the road is a way to make sure to catch voters’ attention in a way that’s different from social media. They are impossible to avoid and they are very simple, of course they definitely have the name [of the candidate] and the party and a picture, not much else on them.”

The content of the signs indicates what the candidate’s campaign is focusing on, whether that is the local candidate, the party leader or the policies of the party, he said.

“The Liberals certainly have a design that emphasizes Mr. Trudeau ‘s name right at the top, and they’ve been doing that for the last three elections, they’ve been emphasizing the Trudeau name,” he said.

“I haven’t seen a Conservatives sign that says Erin O’Toole on it. They may be there though. Obviously I’d have to go across the country to look everywhere.”

Malloy said there isn’t a lot of research on this because studying the effectiveness of signs during a campaign would require gathering a lot of data of the amount of signs that were used in an election and how that impacted the outcome of that vote.

“Election campaigns are very data-driven these days, but I’m not sure that signs are very data-driven, because it’s hard to really scientifically link the number of signs to the number of votes. It may be an indicator, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can prove that the signs created more votes by any means,” he said.
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