On my block, in my very purple, exurban Northern Virginia neighborhood, we have a problem.
When I moved out here 12 years ago, this was still solid red country, with wingnut Republicans representing us pretty much from top to bottom. But over the past few years, through growth fueled by a steady march of new neighbors moving in from the northeast, or out our way from bluer Arlington and Fairfax counties, we've turned out our most egregious nutbar Republicans in favor of Dems across the board (with the lingering exception of Rep. Frank Wolf).
So it has come as something of a surprise to me that my little bellwether street has sprouted McCain yard signs during this past week, with seven homes displaying ten prominently placed signs. We're purple, like I said, but you can't tell that this week, because there are literally zero Obama signs anywhere to be seen. In fact, I've been up and down the neighboring streets, too, and the story is the same there. Not quite the same numbers of McCain signs, but the same number of Obama ones. Zero.
That got me concerned, and I headed out to the Leesburg, Virginia, Obama office to see about getting myself one, thinking that some visibility for the Democratic ticket on my street was more critical than ever. My neighbors sometimes need "permission" to display their Democratic preferences, even though our Republican friends don't seem to wait for anyone's invitation.
But out at the Obama campaign office, I got some unwelcome and unexpected news: no signs. Not only no signs, but none expected to arrive any time soon, possibly for as long as five weeks! So dire was the situation, I heard, that volunteers in the office were taking up collections to have their own signs printed.
I began asking around among my online contacts, and heard similar stories from all over the country. Shortages and backlogs in dozens of offices, and in those few where signs were available, people were being asked to pay anywhere from $8 to $20 per sign. That was a new one on me. I've never been asked to pay for a yard sign before.
So how widespread is the problem? Is it a problem? Have you got a sign? Have you had a problem getting one? Heard of someone who has? Have you been to your local campaign office and asked about their supplies? Would you consider doing it tomorrow?
I need to know what's up with this. I know a lot of people don't think yard signs mean anything at all, but where I live, they're a critical part of the ground game -- like I said, giving less political or less outspoken neighbors the permission they need to open up about their support.
I'm surprised at how difficult the campaign is making it for me to do that, especially here on the purple front of Battleground Virginia.
What's happening in your neck of the woods?