I traded emails all weekend with a buddy of mine who is about to buy some yard signs for a candidate. I was shocked that we was buying so soon. The general rule is to wait until after the first disclosure so you don’t have to report the expense.

That was his intention too, until he started pricing signs this year. So, let’s do a primer.

There are three types of signs: polyboard, bag, and coroplast.

Polyboard signs are the cheap signs you usually see in rural counties. They are cardboard signs treated with a polyurethane coating to keep them from wilting in weather. They are usually put on wooden stakes. They are cheap, which is great for low cost campaigns. But then there is the cost of wood and the problem with trying to give them to volunteers to distribute. I don’t like them.

Bag signs are next. The are plastic signs that you can slip over what is, in effect, a giant staple. For campaigns that probably aren’t going to raise a lot of money, nonpartisan races, races with four year terms, etc., bag signs are the way to go. They get brilliant color, are easy to install, but are one cycle tools — you generally can’t save them. But, they are cheap. That’s why they are the way to go for small races, nonpartisans, and races that only come around once every four years.

Coroplast signs are my favorite. They are corrogated plastic signs. They last forever and rarely fade. They are also easy to install.

Here, however, is why I’d recommend everyone use bag signs this year: all of the signs use plastic products, which are initially petroleum products. The prices have gone up and, looking into the future and talking with people who know, the prices are going to go higher. With the polyboard signs, there is a hidden cost in wood this year due to the Katrina rebuilding effort.

Bag signs hold up during an election cycle just as well as coroplast signs, but use less petroleum in their base. So, you get the ease of use, the brilliant color (some say bag signs actually show color the best), AND you get less cost than coroplast signs.

It’s a no brainer.

The one calculation that you have to go through this year is that you need to get your order in NOW, even if your race isn’t until November. The prices keep going up and will keep going up dramatically over the next few months. By August, when all the races will be looking to buy, there will be a price premium that does not exist right now.

I hadn’t considered all those variables. Glad I had the email exchange this weekend. I figure since I have little else to write about, I can set myself out in the market as a political consulting blogger. Keeps the skill set sharp.

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Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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