Will Tory fundraising make victory more likely?
Perhaps the key element of the first day of the campaign was the realisation that the Tories have got a lot more money to play with and are ready to invest heavily in outdoor advertising.
We got the first taste yesterday with the NHS poster campaign said to be costing Â£400,000. What a contrast with Labour’s news in the Times this morning that it is facing potential bankruptcy and is expecting to be outspent by a factor of three or four.
But does the resource gap matter? And how effective are big costly poster campaigns like the one that has just been launched?
For unlike the US and many other countries political advertising on television remains banned in the UK with the result that those parties with big budgets have no real alternative but to put the emphasis on outdoor campaigns. A bonus is that they can be highly selective about the poster sites they buy and can focus heavily on the marginals.
I’m sure you would be hard-pressed to find a single elector who said they were switching to the Tories because they’d seen the Cameron NHS ad. But we do live in a very different media age than even thirteen years ago.
In a multi-channel TV era which most people now enjoy large numbers of viewers never see a TV news or current affairs programme. In the old days when there were just three or four channels it was hard to avoid them – so all the effort to get the best sound-bites on the Ten o’clock news is now less important.
Political views for the marginal voter, it is said, can be determined by fleeting glances and it’s here where the big poster campaigns are said to come. But this requires more than money. The message has to be spot on and to resonate.
If the Tories can get that right then their bigger budgets are likely to give them an edge. The downside is that they can be accused of trying to buy the election.