Yard Signs: The Bane of Your Existence

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 28 views 

There’s an interesting article on Slate.com on the use of political yard signs that’s worth a read if you’re interested in the mechanics of campaigns. The article covers some experiments that attempt to quantify the impact of yard signs on actual support and votes.

I don’t agree with all the conclusions, but for political junkies it’s still an interesting article.

Whenever I visit with potential candidates, I always tell them they’ll have two challenges/hassles, regardless of the size of the race.

The first challenge is fundraising. In campaigns, no matter how much money you raise, you could always use more.

The second challenge is yard signs. I tell candidates yard signs will become the bane of their existence. What always happens is well-meaning supporters see yard signs for the opponent and call the candidate in a tizzy with the message that they’re losing the race because Sally Sue has a sign in her yard, or that from their perspective, it seems the opponent is winning the sign war, which means in their mind the candidate is losing.  No matter how many yard signs a candidate orders, their supporters believe they should have even more.

What then happens, for undisciplined campaigns, is they begin chasing rabbits. Instead of executing their field plan which is guaranteed to bring votes, they run off on a tear around the district attempting to put up more yard signs. Instead of contacting voters asking for votes, the campaign focuses on a tactic that doesn’t bring in the votes.

There is a place for yard signs in campaigns, but there must be a strategy behind how they’re deployed and how much is spent on them. Never let yard signs dominate the direction of the campaign.