Does anyone besides elderly shut-ins read election mailers? It's not possible yet to know how many millions of dollars are being wasted on all the heavy-stock mail pieces that are stuffing your mailboxes, littering your lobbies, and filling your recycle bins, but I can tell you it's a lot.
We know that the Chiu for Assembly campaign and its PACs alone have a war chest of over $1 million, a good portion of which is being spent on mailers slamming opponent David Campos. Campos's side, meanwhile, is spending at least $730,000 countering that propaganda.
As CBS Sacramento reports, the two state propositions related to healthcare, Props 45 and 46, have now topped $100 million in campaign spending, marking two of the most highly contested races in the nation this November. (Prop 45 regulates health insurance rates for Californians, and insurance companies are spending tens of millions to try to get you to vote no. Prop 46, brought by trial attorneys, raises the cap on non-economic awards in malpractice cases, and doctors and insurance companies have spent at least $57 million on the No campaign.) Prop 48, a referendum on a single Indian casino north of Fresno, has had opponents spending upward of $12.5 million.
Sure, a lot of this money is being spent on TV ads, which for a reading-averse public is probably a lot more effective.
But if I have received, on average, at least five campaign mailers per day for the last three weeks for all the various candidates and propositions, how much paper is that being used just in S.F. alone? We'll do this Harper's Index-style.
Approximate number of campaign mailers received per household per day: 5
Conservative estimate of campaign mailers received in the last 20 days: 100
Number of households in San Francisco: 381,000
Estimate of total campaign mailers received in S.F. alone: 38 million
Approximate number of sheets of office paper produced by one tree: 80,500
But considering mailers are printed on 3-ply paper...: 26,833 per tree
Approximate number of trees killed for the 2014 election in San Francisco alone: 1,416
In short, somebody better go plant some trees.
Also, local junk mail foe Josh Rosenthal has started a petition to the Department of Elections to stop this crap. SIGN IT. (Even though First Amendment rules mean that these mailers probably will never stop.)