My Problem With Yard Signs
2 min read
Every cycle, you see them pop-up in neighborhoods and on mediums in the road. Yard signs are ambiguous with local campaigns, but you will find it’s hard to find a campaign consultant or a staffer who is for them. Yet every time seasoned, experienced political candidates and volunteers seem to focus on nothing else.
The time that could have been spent knocking doors or making phone calls is instead spent on finding more places to put up yard signs. The money spent on them could have been used for digital ads but is instead wasted on metal sticks and plastic signs. Campaigns have limited time and should be used to make direct and targeted voter contact.
In my first Gubernatorial campaign, we spent more time in the first couple of weeks debating signs. This lead to using not pushing voter contact, and even after we had the sign we had the headache of trying to have them accessible to voter all across Colorado. They ended up being more of a hassle that leads us to spend money and time on something that didn’t help us win the election. In contrast, in a ballot election I worked the year earlier, we didn’t have any yard sign, and while our opposition to Amendment 66 had blanked every public space we still won with over 60% of the vote.
The myth with yard signs is that supporters and political candidates who win in spite of them think that yard signs are a measure of popularity and that people notice them. This myth perpetuates because first-time candidates and their supports see the longtime incumbents signs and think they need to do it too.
The reality is that those well-known incumbents would win without them, and cause a lot less work for their staff, and volunteers. The thing to remember about yard signs is that most people don’t notice them because most neighborhoods there are yard signs for business, and most people don’t notice them. While I would generally stay away from yard sign there is one case that you should consider getting them.
The only time I have made a push for a campaign to get yard sign was in a State Senate race. The reason I made the push was that while we had a handful of volunteers after a couple of weeks they started to waste time making yard signs. This was a unique case because if we didn’t purchase signs our volunteers might have continued spending time making them rather than contacting voters.
One of my favorite pieces of advice came from a Local Election Judge in Texas, whose campaign I ran, and has never lost an election in spite being targeted by well-funded groups. “Yard signs don’t vote people do”