We pass out yard signs here at a booth at the county fair, and the fair begins tomorrow, so I went to get the signs last night. It’s difficult to estimate how many to get, but I did not round down to allow for the enthusiasm gap, so we should have plenty.
Yard signs are hugely important here and they’re discussed endlessly. If we run out that that can be interpreted as a good omen (enthusiasm!) or yet another indication that Democrats are chronically disorganized.
The Kerry campaign were big yard sign believers, while the Obama campaign went with “yard signs don’t vote”, which, while true, pissed off local donors no end, because they expected a sign. We eventually begged unions for Obama signs, and got them.
I live on a busy corner, but I usually stick to a single yard sign for whatever judge I’m backing, with the idea that name recognition is the whole deal in judicial races, and it seems silly to put up 15 signs. This year I’m putting up a sign for this person.
Do yard signs make a difference? If you donate to a candidate, do you expect one? If you want one and can’t get one, are you thinking the candidate is wildly popular or that the campaign is horribly disorganized and unresponsive?
One of the local progressive blogs discusses them endlessly, as if the number of signs was as good as a poll.
I agree with your take on them — good for lesser-known candidates, not so much for the big names.
In most of the Democratic campaigns I’ve known, anyone wanting a Republican yard sign could just call up the local party offices to get them, and the people I knew who called up (I didn’t have yards) could almost never find anyone at the Democratic offices who knew how they could get signs. I don’t know if that part was better in the Obama campaign, but it seems to have always been a part of Democratic party disorganization, either that or tendency to prefer other levels of campaigning.
Strangely enough, Obama’s was my first ever sign in the yard.
As a donor/volunteer, I want yard signs and get pissed if none are available. They don’t vote, they reward.
where i live, yard signs are unofficially frowned upon, a sort of faux pas of pushing one’s opinions too far in the neighbor’s face*palinesque wink*…i mean even the tacky people next door don’t do them, also we don’t experience a whole lot of thru-traffic, even some of the minor local big deals who live here don’t do them, so i would have to say, they aren’t that important.
Here, we are trying to compensate for something with the size of our signs. I am not sure what though.
Yard signs are good for morale and enthusiasm. People kid themselves if they say they don’t matter. Who can deny that it saps the confidence even just a little bit when they drive down a street and see lots of signs for the candidate they do not support?
Not to interrupt the discussion, but what happened to mistermix’s post entitled: “The Elephant in the Room” ?
I live in an exurban area in Ohio, and all of our voters want yard signs. THEY. WANT. YARD. SIGNS.
I went to the local Democratic office to get my own Obama sign in 2008, and was read chapter and verse on the studies that have been done that show that yard signs are not effective, they don’t vote, etc., etc.
I am a very educated voter, and I knew all of what she was telling me, but I still wanted a yard sign! Fine, make me pay for it, but provide them, please!
We had a family in town who got so fed up, they ordered 1500 signs on their own, and distributed them out of their house.
This is what happens when national campaigns parachute in some young volunteer coordinator who doesn’t understand local customs in campaigns. I wrote him a note and got back a snotty reply about how hard they were working and how dare I be critical. I think he expected to be greeted as a liberator when he arrived in our little town, and was shocked that we didn’t automatically fall in line with his dictates.
@Starfish: By me, the big sign phenomenon is limited to Republican candidates. They are the signage equivalent of an ALL CAPS troll posting and as such usually have a tendency to piss off the neighbors.
We have an elderly railroad retiree who focuses on the huge signs. He knows a lot of rural landowners, and he can often get them to put up a huge sign. He knew Kerry was in trouble because even Democratic farmers wouldn’t put up the sign.
He’s adorable. It’s his contribution and he spends days on it.
Jack van Dijk
@Earl: Me too, but the wind took it away, sign of things to come…
I think it’s a local culture type of thing. In my rural neck of the woods, they sprout like mushrooms after a rain.
Talking about firing up his base!
This morning, President Obama had an interview with Tom Joyner on the The Tom Joyner Morning Show. I may have mentioned the TJMS before, but it not, follow the link for infor on Tom Joyner and the TJMS.
The TJMS is a nationally synthicated morning radio show targetted to African Americans and urban viewer. If there is a city or state where African Americans live in significant or insignificant numbers, then the TJMS is available. So by being on the TJMS the President got his message across to the his most loyal base.
He discussed some policy and how it was geared toward African Americans but you can tell, that his main focus was to make African Americans aware of the real stakes this election season, and why even though he’s not on the ballot, he stressed why it was important for African Americans to get out and vote.
The TJMS show is usually re-broadcast on BlackAmericaWeb.com
In Chittenden County, Vermont and I’m so freaking sick of seeing the 5 foot by 8 foot Brian Dubie signs. Not to mention a Republican using the color green for signage just seems wrong, even in the Green Mountain State.
So there’s going to be an inevitable arms race once the recount is over, as there are a ton of signs for the Republican candidate and not a one anywhere for the Democrat. Not thrilled to be losing an extra two weeks because of Racine asking for the recount, either. I understand, but it still irritates me. Just wish the left in VT could get its shit together once for the governor’s race.
Signs costs money. I assume the Obama people had done research that calculated that there were better ways to spend their precious campaign money. Perhaps ads on TV are more persuasive than a sign.
As an independent, why should I vote for anybody just because I see a name on somebody’s sign on somebody’s house I just drove by? Instead, if I see an ad that informs of what the candidates stand for, I would be personally more likely to make decision and actually vote.
Yard signs. Fracking yard signs. Yard signs definitely do not vote. They definitely cost campaigns money like other mostly useless bling (buttons, bumper stickers) and time (for the poor schlubs that need to order them, assemble them, deal with everyone that wants one). That’s not such a big deal–you make folks pay for their signs and assign the job of distributing them to someone that cannot do anything else. The big deal is a lot of folks think they are making a significant contribution to the campaign by planting the sign in their yard when they could be doing far more good making phone calls or hosting house parties or distributing absentee ballot applications or by doing door-to-door canvassing. Yard signs, for the most part, serve mostly to stroke/placate the egos of the folks who plant them in their yards (some of whom do provide other services for campaigns but most yard sign devotees do not. It is true that in small local elections with poor local media coverage that signs might serve some minor name identification purpose, but in an election like that if a candidate works their butt off and calls a lot of folks and/or knocks on enough doors and has enough face-to-face conversations they probably can win the race singlehandedly. And for all the folks who say having yard signs up engenders collegial conversations with their neighbors–yeah, right. My experience is that yard signs tend to shut down conversations. I have never voted for a candidate based on their yard sign–I have, however, pointedly not voted for a handful over the years because of the awfulness of their signs: only a first name, no identification of the office they are running for, etc…
I am not some green-behind-the-ears-just-out-of-college-field-organizer either. I have 3 decades of campaign experience & observations backing up the above. As for the Obama campaign, I did not believe then nor do I believe now that David Plouffe and his minions were experts at eleventy-seven dimensional campaign chess but NOT supplying campaign signs worked (or had the unanticipated outcome) to get folks off their arses and involved in other more important activities just because these folks stopped in the campaign office so many times (I mean from once to several times per week) looking for signs that over time we steered a great many of them into making calls and knocking on doors. If the campaign had had signs they would have taken one and left and we probably wouldn’t have seen them again.
Fracking yard signs.
While yard signs don’t vote, they are an indication that campaign is even bothering with trying to win.
Lookin’ at you Martha Coakley.
i tried to get an Obama sign from the local Dem office in 08, was told there weren’t any. i assumed that meant he was popular. when weeks went by and no new signs became available, i assumed the Dems thought we didn’t need them. so i bought one directly from the Obama site.
People read a lot into that stuff, though. In 2004, Bush has magnetic bumper stickers. Kerry did not. People were mad because they didn’t want to put a sticky bumper sticker on a new or nice car. They wanted the magnets. Maybe Bush knew his loyalists had nicer cars?
Signs don’t vote. They just cater to people who want to feel that they’ve done something without actually doing anything. Knocking on 25 doors in your own neighborhood is a hell of a lot more helpful than any yard sign, no matter how large.
Heh. One of ours asked the wife and I to go register voters at an insane RW church fair.
We’ll know here in IL-14 in November. I haven’t seen one Bill Foster sign, and the Randy Hultgren signs blossomed like dandelions in May this week. The CW here is also that Foster is absent from the district. Put that together and it could be trouble.
That’s why I don’t have one. I live in a very mixed neighborhood politically and I like my neighbors. I don’t want to get in political fights with them. I’m going to vote for who I vote for and chat about politics when I want to. I don’t need to get eggs thrown at my house or my car vandalized because of a sign.
Yard signs don’t matter in presidential elections, because everyone knows the names of the major contenders, but local elections are different. Many people don’t know the name of their Representative or state Senator or city councilman. I didn’t even know that the small town I moved to had a mayor until I saw signs around town saying “Smith for Mayor”.
Yard signs are low budget advertising for local elections.
In my area (Inland Empire, CA), yard signs just tell me which Republican (or conservative Republican) has the most money to waste.
This is definitely a regional thing, because if you live in a city and don’t have a yard (like me and most of my friends), it’s totally irrelevant.
On campaigns, we lump them in with the rest of the “swag”–visibility is nice, but these are really just trinkets for donors and volunteers.
Signs are a big deal in my area. Even if you pay attention to politics you still need them to keep in mind who all the players are–with the goofy state rep/senate district boundaries it’s hard to remember who’s on first.
And yeah, it does give an indication of an organized campaign and how much support candidates have.
Kind of like football and apple cider, early fall sprouts lawn signs.
If a yard sign makes me feel more engaged in the campaign (and it does), then I don’t see a reason not to have one.
In ’04 I paid a few bucks to get a Kerry-Edwards sign from a local, prominently left-leaning print shop. I was happy to do it. I don’t expect a campaign to give me a sign for free.
Really, though, it mostly makes sense as an actual campaign tactic for city/county/local judge races where name recognition is lowest.
Yard signs help enthusiasm. In 2008, I made sure to have my dog piss on every Yes on 8 yard sign in about a ½ mile radius from my house.
Every time he did it I felt energized to knock on more doors.
We also met quite a few new people thanks to the signs, so even if they don’t turn out voters, they definitely helped organize people. We were all pretty much acting independently but when a house the next block over put up the same signs as us, we chatted them up, found a few others, and built our own canvassing team for the area. Among the half dozen families, we knew pretty much everyone in our neighborhood, knew who wasn’t going to be convinced, who might be, who was apathetic, etc. In our precinct in the heart of conservative OC, Prop 8 lost by about 15 and Obama won by almost 10 points. The signs helped at least indirectly.
I like having the swag, but more as a sort of memento than an actual means for enthusiasm. So that means I’d prefer, say, a t-shirt to a yard sign. Besides, in my neighborhood, I think I’ve only seen one yard sign around (Bill White, so points to those guys). If I’m going to stand out by putting my politics on my lawn, I’d rather it say something like “Yes on resolution authority, 15:1 capital requirements, and clearinghouses for derivatives!” Which would also make for a terrible yard sign.
Oh, and if the campaign decides to spend the money on something other than swag, meh. Their job is to get elected. So do that first.
Exactly – the Prop 8 signs let me know who is a bad person. That’s useful information – I live two miles from the Castro, so there weren’t any signs over here, but near my office (Mountain View) there were some.
Where I grew up, signs were a huge issues for local candidates. My dad has probably worked on 30 campaigns and obviously he believed in knocking on doors, but he always tried to get as many huge signs on important corners as possible. If nothing else, it made the blood of rich conservatives boil as they drove by in their Mercedeses.
It is all about enthusiasm. Also, to the extent you have neighbors who know you and hopefully have some respect for your opinion, it is a pretty significant statement that you support the candidate to the extent of advertising your support at your home.
I’m a fan of yard signs, and in the ’08 election I became virtually obsessed with them. I was furious when the local Obama office evinced that “signs don’t vote” attitude, and happened to run into a nice young man there who felt the same way. He and I pooled our resources and purchased several hundred yard signs on line, and I set up camp outside the local Metro station during several evening rush hours and gave one to everyone that wanted one (also bumper stickers and buttons.) I also propped a bunch of them in front of our mailbox, parked one of our cars at the entrance to our cul de sac and posted an OBAMA YARD SIGNS HERE in the window so that drivers and passers by could come and TAKE ONE.
The weekend before the election my friend from the Obama office had some people who wanted yard signs and couldn’t find any in any of the Obama or local Dem offices — he called me because he knew that if there was any unused yard sign left in the county I would know where to find it, and I did.
But yard signs do have a dark side: you find out that the pleasant lady down the street who you always chat with in the grocery store is one of Them [shudder].
It seems short-sighted not to get signs wherever possible. If nothing else, you don’t want the perception out there that maybe the opposition’s doing better because they’ve got more signs.
That said, carpeting highway roadsides with multiple signs from the same candidate is wasteful and is almost to the point of looking like litter.
I think the Obama campaign rightfully said they weren’t going to pay for yard signs out of hard dollars when they could just let others pay for them with soft money. Those hard dollars are harder to raise and needed for valubale things like TV advertising.
The way to handle this at the local level is to make people donate $5 per yard sign. It pisses people off, but tough rocks, it will pay for the damn things.
If I give you a donation, don’t give me anything. You have my vote. Use it to get more votes.
I have heard from a number of young people that they have stolen Brain Dubie’s yard signs so they can have them as a misspelled “doobie” joke indoors at home. I hope no one votes for him because they think it would be amusing to have Gov. Doobie from Vermont. He’s horrible but I fear he may win, if only for his VTNG connections. It might count for a lot being that we currently have so many locals in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I know a lot of Democrats that voted for Jim Douglas (not me!) but none of them are planning to vote for Dubie. I hope that bodes well.
I don’t know that the recount is really going to matter much. I think people know if they want to vote for Dubie or whomever is the Democratic candidate. None of the Dems are much different from each other, I don’t think which one in particular it will be matters. Both Shumlin and Racine “look” like a governor, for people that vote that way. They all are campaigning as a group, even the ones not in the recount, for party solidarity. It doesn’t seem to even be mentioned outside of the state that the race is yet undecided. Personally, I voted for Shumlin, but will not feel peevish if Racine wins.
Some years ago I drove past a house in Middlebury which had about 10 signs lined up along the lawn, basically every single Republican candidate – it was a primary and they had all the wingiest choices, and the sign on the end said “Genghis Khan”. I laughed and laughed thinking the homemade sign was part of a political art installation, a commentary on the other candidates. But on my way back I saw that the Genghis Khan sign had been removed, so then I knew that homeowner was really a wingnut and had been punked. I was grateful I had driven by initially at the right time to see it. Afterwards I could not decide which one was funnier to me.
Sometimes when I see signs for a name unknown to me that are grouped with signs for people I don’t like, then I figure it’s safe to assume I will not like that unknown person either. It’s a lazy way to learn about candidates, guilt by yard sign association.
Hawai’i signs. Examples, video, debate. We loves our signs out here. Candidates also spend time on street corners waving at the oncoming traffic, which can occasionally be hazardous to other drivers.
california asset protection
yard signs can only go so far. do you recall the 2008 battles that people nationwide had over yard signs?
Yard signs are a sign that the candidate has both a budget and some supporters, here in NM. I knew the Kerry campaign was bound for disaster when they needed (-)554 votes (of 500,000 registered) to beat Bush and could not produce ONE damn yard sign in my mixed district (CD-1).
Best yard sign story ever, bar none:
During the OH debacle of Nov. 2nd in ’04–in which my cousins, sisters and mom were standing out in the freezing rain after the close of polls to vote for Kerry–one of my neighbors (Larry, the 89 year old Republican who fought at Anzio) decided to ‘help’ the other neighbor (the 68 year old retired English professor who referred to our polling place as ‘where Larry and I go to cancel each other out every two years’) by pulling up her yard sign and disposing of it. While my peeps back East were waiting in line to vote.
I had to go across the street and explain to them that my preschooler needed no lessons in toddler behavior. Seriously, they were headed to Fist City. Over the thrown-out yard sign. Anyone involved might have broken a hip.
Do yard signs make a difference? A Wichita University Professor has found that they build name recognition: http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/wsunews/newsrelease/?nid=415
If you donate to a candidate, do you expect one? No but some volunteers and supporters really, really want one. I understand this. They just want to publicly display their support for a candidate.
If you want one and can’t get one, are you thinking the candidate is wildly popular or that the campaign is horribly disorganized and unresponsive? It depends upon other factors in the race.