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Do Political Yard Signs Make a Difference?
Yes, you are seeing more political yard signs lately.
The use of lawn signs has quadrupled since 1984. While campaigns have invested in high-tech social media strategies and advanced digital outreach efforts, voters have doubled down on one of the oldest campaign tactics around.
The wireframe signs covering your neighborhood have been a staple of US politics since the 1960s. But public displays of support for political candidates date all the way back to ancient Rome, when citizens would post endorsements like:
“I beg you vote for C. Julius Polybius for aedile. He makes good bread.”
Do Political Yard Signs Work?
Researchers are split on whether the endless sea of red, white and blue yard signs have much of an impact on presidential elections. Their effect is typically small, but it might be enough to sway a particularly close race.
Campaign leaders loathe them. “Yard signs don’t vote” is a common refrain among strategists, who say volunteers (and candidates themselves) put an undue focus on the signs.
But they can have a positive impact on voter turnout and name recognition – key factors for down ballot candidates less likely to benefit from nationally televised debates and non-stop media coverage.
That’s the name of the game for all “out of home” advertising efforts from mailers to billboards. It’s far more about brand recognition. Think of it as top-of-the-funnel campaigning. It’s planting the seed so that when the person is ready to buy – or vote – they go with the name they recognize.
That strategy applies to lots of digital advertising as well. We’ve been trained not to click on the barrage Google Display Ads on websites, so making a memorable brand connection is a more realistic strategy.