I’ve seen a lot of questions come through this site about Obama yard signs. I haven’t been involved in answering or fulfilling those requests, but I’m guessing that most people aren’t finding it easy to get one. I do believe some Dems had some printed themselves recently (e.g. as fundraiser giveaways), but getting official campaign signs is difficult. Certainly this is partially due to the fact that we live in a state that will go Obama’s way, so the campaign is putting little effort here (other than mining the deep support here and using it to canvass in neighboring states, call voters, etc.). But it also brings up the question of whether yard signs are worth the fairly large effort required to print, distribute, and maintain them.
There’s a post up at fivethirtyeight.com, titled BREAKING: Obama Campaign Organizers Trying To Win Election Instead of Get You Yard Signs, that gets right at the heart of this question. Are campaign signs worth it? A lot of people have heard the conventional wisdom that yard signs don’t vote, so don’t work too hard on them. Yet when an opponent’s signs start blanketing the neighborhood panic can set in with the other campaign: will the average person presume that there’s no support for the opposing side in town? Or will it lead people to question their intended support?
I don’t think it makes much difference in a presidential race. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Illinois forever, and the fact that in my voting life I don’t think Illinois was ever a swing state, so there’s never much in the way of presidential campaign items around here. But people tend to know who they’re voting for, and if they don’t, they’re unlikely to choose their presidential vote based on yard signs.
However, I do think they possibly make more difference on local issues. I’ve personally been responsible for yard signs on more than one campaign. Especially when it’s a race or an issue that is not well known, then signs can help people figure out who they should vote for because they’ll see a particular side of the issue supported in the yards of their friends.
But on a national campaign? I can see where the Obama campaign is coming from. Sure, they’re loaded and why can’t they just crank them out? But the distribution and management of yard signs is a big job and takes a lot of person hours. And they clearly want those hours devoted to something more productive.
What do you think?
By the way, if you want a sign, you can always buy one from the Obama Store, although no guarantees on when it will arrive.