Monday, August 18, 2008

New adventures in private financing of elections 

Charging for lawn signs:

Purchased in bulk, a two-color lawn sign might cost the Obama campaign $1. I checked the Obama '08 Web site. They offer the budget-conscious supporter a generic 26-by-16-inch sign for $8. For those Obamites into conspicuous consumption, the site advertises a variety of 22-by-15-inch designer signs for $19.99. If this were an oil company, the Democrats would be accusing it of price gouging. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, "So it goes."

I called the Obama '08 Minnesota office for clarification. Media spokesperson Nick Kimball told me it is "generally a policy of the campaign nationally to charge a nominal fee for lawn signs." "An occasional exception might be made for an outstanding volunteer," he added. Kimball later called back to report that "if someone balks at paying for a lawn sign and really wants one, we'll work something out."

Celebrity has its privileges! h/t: Michael.

Seriously, I have thought about this in terms of t-shirts for, say, our radio show. Do we give them away as advertising? Do we sell them for profit? Do we price them at cost and somewhat split the difference? I suspect the marginal value of one more Obama '08 sign isn't that great to the campaign, so perhaps that is the point where you begin to charge. But wouldn't you vary the price by state, and give them away in the toss-ups?

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