I have run for public office twice. The first time I ran, I spent much of the small campaign fund that I had on yard signs. The second time, I decided not to spend the money for a number of reasons, not the least of which was there were four people running for three spots. When I had yard signs, I put them everywhere and anywhere someone would let me plant one on their lawn. I followed the local rules detailing where and how the signs could be displayed, but I made sure that my name was plastered all over the school district in which I was running that included two large Chicago suburbs.
In a small amount of time, the concept of yard signs and how they can forecast the winner of an election, has changed significantly. In the 2012 presidential campaign, count in your mind how many Mitt Romney yard signs you have seen. Equally important, even though you may live in Chicago or the suburbs or Illinois, how many Barack Obama signs have you seen? I have not seen one yard sign promoting Romney/Ryan since they were nominated. I find that unbelievable.
The late, lamented lonely yard sign
I miss yard signs. It's the way you can tell the political leanings of your neighbors. It's a way you can find out, by driving past their houses, how your minister, doctor, football coach or kid's teacher are planning to vote. You can then form judgments about people based on their political decision-making.
Yard-signs are a way to determine who your real friends are. If you're working for a political candidate or you're trying to do a favor for a friend and get some yard signs posted for someone, just ask and see who let's you put that sign in their yard.
Yard signs also help you gauge your community or neighborhood. See what happens when you put a yard sign on your lawn that runs against the political grain of those around you. It won't be there long. And, then, maybe you won't be there long either. It's a faster, more efficient way of getting to know the politics of your neighbors than engaging in lengthy uncomfortable conversations at the summer block parties.
I guess yard signs are like everything else that has outlived it's usefulness. Instead, now we have Twitter, Facebook and plenty of television ads that convey messages. Maybe if Illinois was a "battleground state" (I wonder if Illinois will ever be a battleground state), there would be yard signs. Technology has made it difficult to make judgments about people and how they plan to vote unless you're "friends" with them or "follow" them. I think it's important to know these things - yard signs were a dead giveaway and now that advantage is gone.
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