Saturday, October 6, 2007

The meaning of signs

I've always been interested in the ways people visually identfy themselves politically. This has brought me to an interest in pins and buttons obviously, but also posters and signs. Having been in a number of different ridings over the course of the election, the differences and similarities between the parties and candidates is very interesting.


Charles Sousa-Mississauga South, Yasir Naqvi-Ottawa Centre

Most Liberals don't stray very far from the template, as seen above. Strikes a nice balance between the central party and the candidates individual name, and the candidates personal website. The only candidates who I've noticed have different signs are Ministers like Jim Watson, who I included in the collage above. Jim has had that "re-elect a good MPP" since forever, and was allowed to grandfather it in. Dalton also has a few different designs, seen here: Image and video hosting by TinyPic although he also has plenty of "standard" designs.

I'm assuming Ministers have more choice in choosing a custom sign vs. a standard sign, such as Kathleen Wynne's standard bags: Image and video hosting by TinyPic

compared to George Smitherman's "last name only" signs

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The template is designed to show both party solidarity, and highlight the individual, which is a good reflection of the Liberal team values.

Progressive Conservatives

Tim Peterson-Mississauga South, Trina Morissette-Ottawa Centre

Now here is a good example of how psychology can effect a candidate and his or her sign choices. Tim Peterson, the floor crosser, has a sign that has little Conservative blue in it, and has that stupid by-line "Your John Tory Candidate" as well as a link to the "leadership matters" campaign website. For Tim at the start of the campaign, this would have made sense. First, avoid using partisan colours as much as possible. In the period in which he was an Independent, Tim largely stuck to a neutral yellow and grey template in his literature, his MPP website, and in this official photo.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So using a white sign to try and give something of a non-partisan image makes sense. As does the ignoring of everything Tim Peterson related but the actual name on the sign. "John Tory candidate" is because Tim's entire platform is John Tory, and was thought up in the pre-flip flop days when Conservative candidates thought Tory would lead them into to promised land with his leadership on faith-based funding, instead of electoral oblivion. Same goes for the "leadership matters" webpage. For those of you who still doubt the slavish devoution Tim has for all things John Tory, look at this banner outside his campaign office.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

You can't really get a proper scope of size from that photo, but this thing is HUGE. With Peterson headed for defeat at the hands of Mr. Sousa, perhaps he will ponder what could have been had his attendtence record not been so poor, and his floor crossing not so unpopularly recieved.

Trina is a whole different story. Unlike the psedo-incumbant Tim, Trina would never have won her seat, even in a best case scenario, considering Ottawa Centre is a Liberal-NDP battleground. But her sign is all Conservative blue, has her own personal website listed, and none of that "John Tory for insert every riding in province" bull here. She also has the riding listed, which is something that is becoming increasingly rare on political signs.

It is important to note that both Trina and Tim's signs have the PC logo cramed in as small as legally possible, probably to avoid voters connecting the candidates to the Harris days. Shocking, how voters have a tendancy to hold parties responsible for what they did in government.

New Democratic Party

Ken Cole-Mississauga South, Will Murray-Ottawa Centre

I couldn't actually find any online pictures of Ken and Will's signs, but since they both use the same template as shown in the collage, it is not a huge loss. The NDP, more so even than the Liberals, are very focused on consistancy in signs. The only difference in any signs I've seen personally or could find online is that Lynn Hamilton in Ottawa West uses a someone darker shade of orange, and Ric Dagenais in Ottawa Vanier uses a different template, white background with black text and orange and green highlights, which I couldn't find pictures of. Oh, and Ric and Will both have the bi-lingual aspect on the signs, with NDP alongside NPD.

That Ken and Will would use the same design is interesting. The NDP design as is seems to focus much more on the candidate, with the NDP (or NPD) logo cramed into the green highlight. Ken in Mississauga South faces an unwinnable fight, as the NDP has struggled, particularly in the last few decades, to even put in a respectable showing, usually finishing with below 10%. Ken might be better served with the current signs, as the NDP brand is not particularly strong here, and he does have some name exposure from being the perpetual NDP candidate, having run in the last few provincial elections and one recentish federal election for the Dippers.

Will Murray however, is locked in a tight battle with the Liberals, in a seat the NDP already have federally. Given Murray's profile (like all the major candidates, to be frank) is somewhat low, I would have figured Murray would strongly rely on the NDP brand name to help him out in an area that has elected NDP'ers both federally and provincially before. Both signs also fail to mention the individual website, and provide a link to the party one, although the green shadow used on the white text makes it very hard to read the smaller print of the website adress from any sort of reasonable difference. Lynn Hamilton's slightly darker shade of orange makes the website somewhat easier to see.
David Johnson-Mississauga South, Greg Laxton-Ottawa Centre
Couldn't find any pictures of David's signs, but they are the same template as Greg's. The Green signs are a classic example of placing brand first. The last name of the candidate is large enough to get you to remember it, but the main emphasis is on the colour green, and the word "green" (dunno why they like lowercase so much). This makes sense considering the Green brand rather than the individual candidates are more likely to pick up voters. The Greens further shun individuality by giving the party website, as opposed to the candidate website, and interestingly, follow the PC's in placing the election slogan ("Real Issues. Real Answers") on the signs.

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