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So many people in and around campaigns are passionate about yard signs.  The claims of campaigns being won and lost due to yard signs, the supporters who beg, cry and scream about needing yard signs, the candidates who get massive "feel good ego inflation" from seeing their name on so many signs around the districts...

Conventional Un-Wisdom: To win this district, you need yard signs.


Get the real wisdom after the fold...

Mario Piscatella is a political consultant with extensive experience working with federal campaigns and training activists for organizations including Democracy for America.

This is cross posted from my website at www.mpapolitical.com, the 5th in an ongoing series posted about once a week.

Mario Piscatella is a political consultant with extensive experience working with federal campaigns and training activists for organizations including Democracy for America.

So many people in and around campaigns are passionate about yard signs.  The claims of campaigns being won and lost due to yard signs, the supporters who beg, cry and scream about needing yard signs, the candidates who get massive "feel good ego inflation" from seeing their name on so many signs around the districts...

Conventional Un-Wisdom: To win this district, you need yard signs.


You want to make me cry on election night? Let me find out that a good candidate lost by a slim margin, but had a ton of yard signs. The answer is always no. NO YARD SIGNS. They don't vote, they never will. Had the time and money been spent on virtually anything else, the candidate would likely have won by a slim margin instead of losing by a slim margin.

Each yard sign the campaign purchases, at costs ranging from seventy cents to upwards of four dollars a each, has a larger, hidden cost. For each yard sign you campaign purchases, it will drain an average of three hours from the campaign. Time organizing the signs in the office, managing inventory, arranging for pick ups, deliveries, and the worst part – handling the inevitable issues of lost/stolen/destroyed yard signs.   So yard signs manage to drain from all three of the most precious resources on a campaign, time, treasure and talent, while producing zero votes.

Every cycle, at least one, if not several campaigns (regardless of party affiliation) get wrapped up in spats over allegations of stolen, destroyed or vandalized campaign signs. Don't ever do it. Don't put out a press release or an email alleging the opponent stole your signs, altered them, used them for a bonfire...doing so will NEVER help your campaign. You will look like a whiner and really, you are. Yard signs don't vote. Yard signs don't matter. Focus on what matters.  Stick to your message and disseminating your narrative. The objective is to be seen as a strong leader, not the kid who got picked last for kickball.

But this district is special, in this one yard signs really work! No, they don't. There is no special magic in one district versus another that adds effective message delivery, narrative, emotion, or other persuasive capacity to yard signs. If you can find a way to teach yard signs to vote, you will be very wealthy, until then, focus on things that actually do impact elections – canvassing, phone calling, fund raising, and other forms of good old fashioned organizing.

While there is some "feel good value" attributable to yard signs, the costs far outweigh the benefits and similar feel good value can be achieved through much more efficient means. Start with treating your volunteers, supporters, donors and the rest of your constituents with respect and utilize positive reinforcement. Give them alternate feelings of "ownership" of the campaign by giving them specific goals for winning their own neighborhood. Show them the real data, how many votes you need to win from their street. Teach them to organize, to bring their friends and neighbors together to meet the candidate, surrogates or campaign staffers, show them they can make a big difference.

There is a benefit to some (non-yard) signs, four foot by eight foot signs and banners can be useful for major traffic flow sites and use in parades and events. I recommend campaigns purchase roughly two 4x8 signs/banners per 25k potential voters. Buy them all at once to reduce per unit costs, and make them consistent to the campaign″s branding. Mix corrugated plastic signs with durable banners, get them all two sided, and make sure they are union printed with bugs and proper legal disclaimer per the laws of your election. For those doing the math, that means if you are running for Council in a district of 20k voters, two 4x8″s max. If you are running for mayor in a city of 150k voters, 12 4x8″s, for Congress in a district of 500k voters, 40 4x8″s maximum. Mixing that with 25 signs and 15 banners to get your forty should suit you well through a typical Congressional campaign.

Yard signs don't vote. They become a part of the landscape after a relatively short period of time, and typically have a very limited viewership anyway. It is always amusing to hear an irate supporter complaining about their missing yard sign on the end of a cul-de-sac where the candidate has locked up all of their neighbors as well. Or their complaint is that their neighbors on both sides have the opponents signs up...it isn't impacting the outcome of the election, focus your energy on getting out your votes and winning persuadable voters with effective organizing techniques.

There is data, produced by reputable Political Scientists, that shows that yard signs can increase "name recognition" - which some argue is a needed first step to introducing a candidate to the public.  The flaw in this logic is that it is an empty introduction.  You have provided me a name, but no narrative, no message, no emotional feelings (unless the sign is amazingly ugly or beautiful to the viewer).  What have you gained?  You haven't influenced a persons propensity to vote, or altered who they may vote for should they vote.  The data is clear on that as well.  Spend the money on organizing and persuading voters to show up AND vote for your candidate.  Introduce the candidate to the public with effective introductory ads on tv, radio and by utilizing earned media, in the earliest stages, rely on good organizers and appearances at events to present your candidate to their potential supporters.  Yard signs don't vote.

Even worse, most yard signs are purchased and/or distributed over the final weeks of the campaign, after the point which a candidate should have attained sufficient name recognition.  Right now, in late October, just 13 days from the general election, at least three (top tier) candidates have emails in my inbox promoting yard signs.  There is no math that has a candidate with low/no name identification overcoming that deficit via yard signs.  Yard signs don't vote.
At the highest level of campaigning, there are vendors that will provide your supporters with the opportunity to buy yard signs direct, meaning the campaign never has to touch them, and all questions regarding the signs can be referred to the vendor. The Obama for America campaign in 2008 did this effectively, allowing supporters to purchase yard signs, t-shirts, canvass bags, mugs, car magnets, bumper stickers and even baby clothing with the campaign logo on it through their website, with the items shipped directly to the supporter's home.

There is one other function of yard signs, really the primary function and most significant positive capacity they have, candidate ego.  In a Congressional Special election there was a huge list of candidates with a number of multi-millionaires.  All of these self-funders bought thousands upon thousands of yard signs and had paid "volunteers" distribute them to every median, sidewalk, right-of-way, abandoned lot, shopping center, fence, lamp post, street sign and even a homeless people who weren't moving fast enough.  The candidate who won had less than 400 signs, all of them from previous campaigns, modified with spray paint as needed.  They were distributed daily along the route the candidate would travel, giving him the impression that everywhere he went, he was loved.  No reason for him to know the signs he saw on the north side of the district yesterday are the same signs he's looking at on the south side of the district today...he felt great and it invigorated him going in to every event.  On the other hand, you can accomplish this by having a candidate people actually do love...  Far less costly and you eliminate the 4 man hours per day relocating the signs.  Yard signs don't vote.

I should provide additional information, it is not legal to place yard signs anywhere but private property where permitted by the owner of said property.  Businesses who lease property typically have clauses in their lease about signs, requiring the owners permission for any additions or changes.  State, County and local ordinances may apply, but all of them are subject to Constitutional review as violations of free speech, choose those battles wisely, they aren't likely to net you many votes.  All of the signs you see in public spaces, such as medians and along the sidewalk/curb are illegal in most of America.  They are subject to being picked up by the county/city/state/etc and in some communities fines for littering or similar ordinance may apply.  Yet another reason not to bother with yard signs.  Yard Signs don't vote.

ps.  If you ignore everything else above, don't ignore this...DON'T PUT YOUR FACE ON YOUR DAMN SIGNS.

Originally posted to mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:18 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

    by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:19:00 AM PDT

    •  Pooh, pooh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen

      Missing yard signs & arguing about them is 'ritualized behavior" for political campaigns.  There are complaints & accusations on both sides, letters to the editor in the editor, etc.  It almost wouldn't be campaign season without this behavior.

      Perhaps I am indulging in the 'magical feeling' that my district is different.  I live in a rural area where the dynamic is different from that of urban/suburban areas.

      I will disclose a biased point of view. Right now I have 5 signs on my lawn - for Democrat candidates for Governor, Senator, Congressional Representative, State Senator, plus a dual sign for County Clerk & County Coroner.

      Now, your suggestion to hold up 4x8 signs for candidates.  Works great in Albany, NY where there are busy streets & intersections with traffic lights.  Drivers can see the signs as they wait for the light.

      Where I live, I can drive 10 miles in one direction and only see one traffic light.  And in many places in our district you can drive 30 miles before you see a traffic sign [And this is on Route 22, the main road that connect all the towns and counties of the easternmost part of New York State.]  So the practice of holding up 4x8 signs doesn't work here.

      My experience is that lawn signs create a feedback loop for party voters & Independents we are trying to influence.  Lots of signs for a candidate means strong support that re-inforces the idea that by voting for that candidate, you've picked a winner.

      Also, those 3 volunteer hours may not be 'lost'.  Not every one is comfortable canvassing or phonebanking. Keeping a yard sign up is a way to 'volunteer' without doing something you don't like to do or don't have time for.

      Sign wranglers too are worth several volunteer hours.  In our town one guy  puts up yard signs & monitors them.  One reason I have 5 signs is that he likes my wide frontage with a good view on a well traveled road [by rural standards], so the signs are seen by many people.  He picks other good places where the signs will be seen by most of the local residents.  (Signs on the way to the dump are considered prime.)

      Finally, sometimes the density and location of signs can be almost as good as polling. For several cycles here the numerical preponderance of signs for a particular candidate is a predictor of the eventual electorial outcome.

      I'll see how right this informal polling is on Nov 3, when the full election results come in.  But right now, the Democrat signs are outnumbering the Republican signs 3-1 -- and this used to be a Republican district.

      HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

      by HylasBrook on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:33:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beware of the big, vanity banner signs... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap, mp, HylasBrook

    ...they can get weathered, disheveled, the owner of the property may have a change of heart and take down the sign on their own or (worse) put up signs from other candidates out-of-state who may not play so well in the district around the banner...

    I say this living in the land of Linda! vanity campaign signage - her signs are really starting to sag arond here, & a number of her signs are surrounding by other signs promoting Sharron Angle or Christine O'Donnell or Rand Paul (none of whom garner a lot of support in Connecticut).

    Sometimes unattended banners are worse than putting up no banners at all.

    "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

    by grannyhelen on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:24:42 AM PDT

    •  There is another thing I didn't talk about... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grannyhelen, HylasBrook

      ...stress relief and comedy.

      Sometimes yard signs can provide needed stress relief and comedy to over worked campaign staffers...

      Once upon a time, on a very underfunded campaign, there was one banner at one of the busiest intersections in the district, highly visible, mounted on the back of a wall of a major donor to the campaign.

      The banner was hung with fishing line to the wall and weighting bricks, the line was cut, the banner was stolen.

      The banner was replaced and re-hung with heavier cord and larger weighting bricks.  The cords were cut and the banner was stolen.

      The banner was replaced and rehung with heavy wire cable.  The cable was cut and the banner was stolen.  The backside of the banner was coated with Vaseline and itching powders.  Anytime the campaign staff got too stressed over the remaining weeks, they laughed about the poor jackass that stole the last banner.  The banner was re-hung and never stolen again.

      Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

      by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:47:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, don't I feel stupid... (4+ / 0-)

    I have eight signs for candidates in my yard, plus one for a library issue.

    Yes, in fact, I do drive a Volvo.

    by KTinOhio on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:25:14 AM PDT

    •  I want to kiss whoever made this. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap, grannyhelen, MKinTN, HylasBrook

      All it needs is a reference to how effective the yard sign on a street with no other houses and no traffic is...

      Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

      by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:32:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is my favorite new video. (0+ / 0-)

      Someone sent it to me (a dyed-in-the-wool field nerd) last week.  Given that it is campaign season and not legislating season, it has replaced (temporarily) "I'm Just a Bill" from Schoolhouse Rock.  

      Thanks!

      Whether we lose 1 or a 100 seats in the House, we'll waste more ink debating what those losses "mean" than we ever did organizing to prevent them. - pico (ed.)

      by mindoca on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 09:24:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I knew Obama was going to win.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, frankzappatista, mp, MGross

    when I heard David Plouffe say that he wouldn't spend money on yard signs.

    Yards signs make people feel like they are doing something.  But they are a waste of money.  Spend what money you have on recruiting and training volunteers and putting them on the phone and on the ground.

    Now, GOTV!

    •  I disagree somewhat (2+ / 0-)

      As I noted above:

      Yard signs do help, especially with name recognition for the more obscure races (I think they tend to be most effective for judicial and other non-partisan races).

      They also help canvassers, because let's face it, walking lists are usually only perhaps 80% accurate at most; if you see a house with a half-dozen GOP signs in front of it, you can pretty much skip it, especially if time is tight.

      However, the problem is when campaigns/supporters become obsessed with yard signs to the exclusion of all else (see the parody videos I've posted), that's all.

      •  Sorry to contradict but there is tons of research (0+ / 0-)

        showing that they have no impact at all on outcome (well, perhaps negative if you count spending any resources -- money, time, whatever -- on signs instead of activities that bring in votes).  Field work is, in large part, a science, and the empirical evidence tells us what is a waste and what works.  

        So, as we say, until yard signs grow little legs and go out to vote ... (LOL).

        Thanks!

        Whether we lose 1 or a 100 seats in the House, we'll waste more ink debating what those losses "mean" than we ever did organizing to prevent them. - pico (ed.)

        by mindoca on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 09:30:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)

    I've come to the conclusion that the only people who yardsigns get fired up  are the people delivering them.

    Republicans proved that you can put as much stock into their promises as you can a promise made at a Lindsay Lohan probation hearing, -Hari Sevugan

    by bondibox on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:33:55 AM PDT

  •  My experience (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flaming Liberal for Jesus

    I live in a rural town of about 25K in upstate New York where the bulk of the population lives in one of three villages. Last year I had personal experience with their effectiveness and lack thereof when I was the Democratic nominee for town clerk.

    I put up my signs all over the place starting about three weeks before the election. For other reasons I wasn't able to do much else in the way of campaigning. I lost by about 2 to 1 (At least I think I established the minimum Democratic "hard count" in a town where I've calculated the PVI to be about R+5, if nothing else).

    I take full responsibility for the lack of result, even though none of us Democrats running for local office won (and our ticket was headed by a former town supervisor at that). But I do think the signs, placed at key intersections around town, did something for name recognition.

    I do see one other function for signs: letting the other party know you're out there and in their backyard, if they dominate locally as they do here. But of course that, as we all know, is nowhere near enough to win elections.

    This year, I've noticed, there's been more theft of signs than usual. Sometimes it's due to signs being placed on what's clearly private property. I think it's also due to teabaggers who feel less inhibited about cutting corners than traditional Republicans do (not that they don't do it, believe me). I do agree with this post that signs are far more effective placed at high-visibility intersections than your best friend's front yard at the end of a cul-de-sac. And campaigns should not get bogged down in them. If they get stolen, just put more up if you have them. After a certain point you need to build on the name recognition anyway (And the current campaigns are past that point).

  •  haha (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mp, LaughingPlanet

    My facebook profile picture is a sign saying "I'm a yard sign. I don't vote.... Go knock doors", with the OFA symbol in the middle. I had it up in 2008 when I was working as an organizer, and have it up again now...

    I can't give you a brain, but I can give you a diploma- Wizard of Oz; If you have half a brain you won't need a diploma- Frank Levey

    by weathercoins on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:49:01 AM PDT

  •  It depends... (6+ / 0-)

    Largely you are correct.  But in some cases, in certain neighborhoods, they can improve confidence of supporters that are in a significant minority when they fear disdain from their neighbors.

    For example, I live in Arizona in pretty well-to-do neighborhood.  It goes without saying that this is prime area for "teabaggers".  A couple brave yard signs can do wonders for closet supporters or those that are "on the fence" that lean but don't want to be thought poorly about.  I've had many people come up to me telling me that I was first one they knew to support such-and-such.  It made it reasonable for them to consider such-and-such also.

    •  Absolutely... (3+ / 0-)
      I was going to post this, but you beat me to it.  

      In much the same way that being out of the closet helps empower other people, being visible to your neighbors about your political beliefs helps empower those who think they're all alone in this red, red district.  

      That may not (as the diarist put it) "win elections", but yard signs are a valuable social tool.  

      On a related note, in 2008, I worked for the campaign of a fantastic candidate for a local office in the small town where I live.  The town is small enough that we were realistically able to knock on about 20% of the doors in the district -- but that still left a majority of voters that we weren't able to contact directly.  The nearest television station is in another county, 40 miles from here, and precisely because it was 2008, their political coverage was entirely focused on national races.  I'm convinced that in a race this small (less than 2000 votes were cast) and this low-information, yard signs actually did make a difference in winning over neighbors for whom the race would have otherwise been a coin toss.  

      •  I'm confused... (0+ / 0-)

        ...why is it that the voters willing to put yard signs up can't talk to their neighbors about why they are supporting X candidate?

        Given the low volumes, each person willing to take a yard sign would need to get three to five other people to show up and vote to produce the win number of roughly 1150?

        It is always more effective and efficient to do things other than yard signs.  Yard signs don't vote.

        Not in rural areas, not in suburbs, not in urban, not in super rural areas.  The lower the volumes, the less impact the signs have.  Good old fashioned phone trees and back yard bbq's will produce significantly better results for instance.

        What do I know about red districts...quite a bit, I've campaigned in the reddest districts in the country...from Utah County, Utah to Jerry Falwell's University in western Virginia, I've seen how red America can be.  Your district isn't different, yard signs don't vote.

        Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

        by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:58:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My neighbors have commented on my sign... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          osterizer, yella dawg, Dichro Gal

          ...and thus conversations have begun, granted the numbers are small and my influence uncertain but they say if you want to change the world get you own life in order and it radiates out from there. I know who I vote for and why, this seeps out to those around me. Maybe, I could do all this without the sign...maybe not?

          (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

          by Enterik on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:05:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Following up on Enterik's point. (0+ / 0-)
          ...why is it that the voters willing to put yard signs up can't talk to their neighbors about why they are supporting X candidate?

          Enterik answered this well, but I'll add:  

          Voters willing to put up yard signs might not know which "three to five" other neighbors are persuadable.  I have a hunch about my neighbors' political leanings, but I may just be barking up the wrong tree.  

          You suggested "phone trees" and "bbqs" as an alternative, but you might have missed where I mentioned that we had a very small staff -- we canvassed where we could, but we used yard signs to reach places where we didn't have the volunteers to knock on doors.  In your zeal to oppose the use of yard signs in any race, anywhere, are you really going to suggest that they didn't help a candidate who had more miles to cover than volunteers to cover them?

          You keep repeating "yard signs don't vote" as a talking point.  That talking point is patronizing and insulting.  Do phone trees vote?  How about barbecues?

          •  phone trees are direct communication... (0+ / 0-)

            ...person to person, with emotion, narrative and message delivery.  They require little to no campaign staff assistance, if at all.  It is about me telling others I already know and have a relationship with why I am voting for candidate X.  BBQ's are the same, getting people connected through some common bond (geography, employment, family, hobby, etc) together where one person can share their reasons for supporting candidate X.  If the candidate or staff can attend/speak great, if not, it can still be extremely effective.  People are more responsive to hearing reasons to support a candidate from someone they know, relate to and attach prior credibility to.  The attendees of the bbq and the people called via phone tree can ask and answer questions, and they can vote.

            Yard signs...no credibility, no emotion, no message, no communication/responsiveness.

            As for not knowing which neighbors to approach, the campaign could help with that if they have access to a voter database, but, otherwise, there are tools via the DNC website (and apps for smart phones), and you can always do it the hard way...finding out by experience.  How many doors are there on your street?  Take notes and remember who not to visit next time.

            Every race, everywhere, yard signs don't vote.

            Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

            by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:53:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm done. (0+ / 0-)
              You haven't made any effort to comprehend what I'm saying.  

              I've mentioned twice that we were very short on volunteers, and you continue to suggest labor-intensive activities for the campaign.  (And you didn't answer my question:  do barbecues vote?)  

              I'll conclude with this observation:  we won our election, short-handed as we were.  You can keep repeating your talking point, but I was there.

              •  I did. (0+ / 0-)

                The attendees of the bbq and the people called via phone tree can ask and answer questions, and they can vote.

                And I address the "labor intensive" aspects as well.

                Having worked on some large budget but far more minimal budget campaigns around the country, I know what it means to not have the manpower and dollars to do everything you want to, but again that is the point of this.  YARD SIGNS DRAIN MORE RESOURCES THAN THEY RETURN VOTES.

                If your budget and staff are limited, you have MORE reason not to buy yard signs.  Yard signs should come in to the discussion when you reach a point where you have more manpower and money than you can expend in other ways, if your campaign has this problem please contact me ASAP, I can help.

                Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

                by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 01:04:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Putting up a yard sign.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          osterizer

          doesn't take any time.  

          And in the scenario described it does influence the voters I identified to:

          1. Be more open about their own beliefs (maybe even talk to others about it)
          1. Deepen their own conviction possibly preventing them from being persuaded by others in opposition

          Your district isn't different, yard signs don't vote.

          Ok buddy.  Stick to your sound bite.  I just explained a real life scenario where this DID in reality influence votes...

          •  The issue isn't the time it takes you... (0+ / 0-)

            ...to put up your one yard sign.

            Its the management of resources within the campaign, where it takes approximately three man hours per sign purchased over the length of the campaign.

            Time, talent and treasure being the three important resources of a campaign, you are losing all three in this process for very minimal (or non existent) gains.

            While yard signs may have been a catalyst for some campaign somewhere gaining a few votes, this isn't a zero sum equation, the answer isn't that those votes couldn't have been gained any other way but with a yard sign, is it?

            Had the resources been spent in other ways, likely more votes would have been gained.  That is the point of this, finding the most efficient methods for attaining votes and winning elections (for better candidates, progressives candidates).

            Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

            by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 01:00:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree in the scenario I described (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              osterizer

              However, this is a substantially different argument than you made.

              Now you are arguing relative efficacy of communication techniques which is quite a bit different than "yard signs do nothing".

              •  Did you read the original post? (0+ / 0-)

                Each yard sign the campaign purchases, at costs ranging from seventy cents to upwards of four dollars a each, has a larger, hidden cost. For each yard sign you campaign purchases, it will drain an average of three hours from the campaign. Time organizing the signs in the office, managing inventory, arranging for pick ups, deliveries, and the worst part – handling the inevitable issues of lost/stolen/destroyed yard signs.   So yard signs manage to drain from all three of the most precious resources on a campaign, time, treasure and talent, while producing zero votes.

                While you might argue that "zero votes" is a specific declaration of complete ineffectiveness, the point of the entire post is about the lack of efficiency of yard signs and how they drain from the real goals of a campaign.  There are several mentions of resource management and efficiency.

                Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

                by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 01:09:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Don't waste your time. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BrowniesAreGood
                The diarist has an opinion, but doesn't have the research to back it up.  

                I'm more inclined to side with Wikipedia's take on yard signs: a yard sign represents between six and ten votes; political organizers "hate" them; there are ways to design signs that are more effective.

                Speaking of effective signs, I think the diarist has forgotten an important historical example:  

                If you dare think

                road signs don't work

                I'm sure this link

                will raise a smirk.

                Burma-shave

                •  This is a demonstrated disconnect. (0+ / 0-)

                  The ad campaign you link to is a very unique effort very dissimilar to campaign yard signs.  As I referenced in the original post, yard signs become part of the landscape, the clutter that passes by unnoticed in our daily lives, very quickly.

                  As the linked data in the original post references, yard signs are scientifically proven to have slight impacts on name identification, but ZERO IMPACT on likelihood to vote or tendency to vote for or against the candidate represented by the yard sign.

                  No, there is no valid scientific data to back up the ridiculous assertion that a yard sign represents between six and ten votes.  A yard sign represents three man hours of a campaign and a few dollars of the campaigns treasure.  Using those unfounded numbers, how many calls could a staffer or volunteer make in three hours?  A solid paid organizer can make 30-75 dials per hour, with a contact rate of between 9 and 33 per hour.  Persuasion rates for staffers vary widely, but between 25 and 30% performance for a decent staffer is the minimum.  Volunteers are likely to make fewer calls per hour, 10 to 35, similar contact rates 3 to 15, but higher persuasion rates, 40 to 60% performance.

                  Either way, at the bottom of those spectrum, you get 2 to 8 new votes per hour from the paid staffer on the phone, 2 to 10 new votes per hour from a volunteer.  But that is new votes, versus the yard sign "representing 6 to 10 votes" - are those votes the campaign already had or votes the sign "delivered".  This is where we get in to the world where experienced campaign staffers say "yard signs don't vote."

                  Again, there is nothing wrong with individuals having yard signs in their front yard, but the campaign should not be buying, distributing or managing them.  Complaints should be fielded by a direct vendor or Helen Waite.

                  Yard signs belong in yards, not on medians, roadsides and abandoned lots.

                  My research is dozens of campaigns around the country, spanning rural and urban areas, red, blue and purple districts.  Big budgets, small budgets, Presidential, Congressional, Senate, county, city and state offices...If you are only moved by precise scientific study with double blinds and control groups, you do what you want to.  I'm not forcing anyone to adhere to my theories of campaigning, I'm just sharing them.  I see too many terrible campaigns every cycle, most of the "progressive" candidates have terrible campaigns where the very things I've posted about are done wrong.  For every great progressive candidate who won, there are dozens who got crushed despite being the better person for the job.

                  Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

                  by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 04:57:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Social Proof... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots

    ...seems to be the basis for yard signs, a demonstration to fence-straddling neighbors and nearby wannabes just what sort of candidate "WE" the neighborhood are endorsing.

    One would like to believe that all voters are rational islands unburdened by miasmatic opinions of others...

    ...but science would beg to differ.

    Also, your hypothesis is untestable, for we cannot run a parallel where the candidate didn't use signs, so we can't even know if the race is close because signs were used.

    One can only fall back on the notion that free advertising and the principle of social proof drive such decisions to use technology from a bygone era.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:10:59 AM PDT

    •  No emotion, no narrative, no energy. (0+ / 0-)

      The issue isn't whether or not yard signs have scientific value, the issue is that campaigns are organizations of limited resources and yard signs have negative efficiency in the allocation of said limited resources.

      The time it takes ordering, receiving, assembling, distributing, maintaining and providing "customer service" for said yard signs is ALWAYS, be it a judicial race, a state rep race or a Presidential/Congressional campaign, ALWAYS better spent doing other things.  Those other things, phone calling, canvassing, tv/radio ads, house parties, county fairs, all of them can convey emotion, tone, narrative - effective message delivery.  As I referenced in the post, we know yard signs can raise name id, but we also know, through scientific study, that it has no impact on voting preference or likelihood.

      Yard signs don't vote.

      Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

      by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:19:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have a yard sign... (0+ / 0-)

        ...let me tell you how I came by it. My local MD House district rep canvassed my neighborhood, talked to me at my home and then asked if I would put up a sign. Since I voted for said candidate in the past, as well as the other incubants being cobranded on the sign, I accepted. Does this fall into the same category of experience you have been dis-promoting?

        By the way, I really am interested in the credible scientific data you intimated and would love to get a citation or just a couple of authors if you have the info readily available.

        (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

        by Enterik on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:59:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  my apologies... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Enterik

          the link didn't transfer when I cross posted, I have added it to the diary and here it is for your convenience:

          Yard Signs don't vote, science says so.

          Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

          by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:16:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  re: your house candidate... (0+ / 0-)

          It isn't unusual for the sequence of events you describe to occur at all.  But it is far from efficient and effective, that House candidate would be better off giving you a list of your neighbors that are likely voters to invite over for coffee/bbq/whatever.  All of the time he spends providing the signs, and later dealing with complaints and related issues, and of course the costs involved in producing them, would be far better served spent in other ways.

          Yard signs don't vote.

          Would you not vote for that MD House candidate if she/he did not give you a sign?

          Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

          by mp on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:23:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There was a GOTV pitch as well... (0+ / 0-)

            ...no doubt I am on numerous lists as a serial canvasser, so I was a good target (were it not for an infact born with cardiac issues and reflux). I am also a frequent low level donor to local campaigns, so there was another angle as well.

            Of course, I go with my sample ballot already marked with my choices, so no I won't be influenced, but as I said in another comment, I have talked to my neighbors over the sign.

            (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

            by Enterik on Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:34:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yard signs are for pissing off your neighbors. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flaming Liberal for Jesus

    Nothing else, really.

  •  In rural areas they do help a lot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flaming Liberal for Jesus

    If all your neighbors have one candidate's signs, there is social support for that candidate.

    It frustrates even plain old voters if they can't get yard signs - or bumper stickers - for their candidates.

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