Campaign signs litter a stretch of Gordon Head Road.

Campaign signs litter a stretch of Gordon Head Road.

Campaign signs effective for name recognition: prof

Are campaign signs effective? One University of Victoria professor thinks they are to an extent.

With the federal election roughly three weeks away, hundreds of campaign signs are popping up on street corners and lawns all over Victoria and Esquimalt.

But are those signs effective? One University of Victoria professor thinks they are to an extent.

Janni Aragon, assistant professor in the department of political science and the director of technology integrated learning, said signs help with name recognition when voters head to ballot boxes on Oct. 19.

“They’ll think ‘oh yeah, on the corner of Arbutus and Gordon Head, there are six to eight signs. I remember seeing Elizabeth May, Tim Kane and Robert Boyd’,” she said, adding incumbents tend to win re-election as part of name recognition.

“(It’s) the money they have and they’re tried and tested. They have a track record,” she said. “Regardless, name recognition is good for new candidates as well.”

Randy Worthingham, campaign manager for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Liberal candidate David Merner, said the roughly 100 large signs and 200 to 300 lawn signs put up in the riding have helped voters recognize the newcomer’s name.

“It’s key to getting the name of our candidate David Merner known. If you don’t have that presence, it’s detrimental to the campaign,” he said. “David’s recognition has increased since the signs have gone up. When he goes to the door, people know who he is. Previously, the name recognition wasn’t as great.”

A spokesperson with NDP Victoria candidate Murray Rankin’s campaign said they’ve put up hundreds of signs on private property so far and have ordered 500 more because they’re in high demand.

Stephanie Rae, communications manager for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Conservative candidate Shari Lukens’ campaign, said they’ve put up hundreds of signs in high-traffic areas in the riding.

Candidates are also affiliating themselves more closely with party leaders on signs, something Aragon said she’s never seen in Victoria before.

“There’s more tendency in this election to connect to the party leaders and I haven’t witnessed that in Victoria before,” Aragon said. “It just shows how important the party leader is to this election or the ways in which the parties are making it about the party leader.”

But Aragon said there is a downside to the barrage of campaign signs — it can cause election fatigue and could turn some people off from voting.

In the 2011 federal election, the voter turnout was just over 61 per cent across the country.