Do Campaign Signs work?

As many candidates on our roster can attest, I have a serious aversion to campaign signs.   In fact, I dislike them.

I feel like they simply do no work, if you define work as “increasing vote totals” or “persuading undecided voters”.   If they did work, Ron Paul would be ruler of the free earth by now.

On the whole, we would prefer to put the resources: money, time,&  campaign energy into communications that persuade voters NOT into passive communication with the intent of only raising name ID.

Why Yard Signs don’t work

I dislike them for many reasons,

  1. I don’t think they work, as defined as increasing vote totals.
  2. They are a distraction for many candidates especially first time candidates.  Instead of doing the critical things a candidate should do, they do the easy and busy thing of working on signs.   They are working hard, just on the wrong things.
  3. Signs are not a persuasive type of communication, they exist to raise name id.
  4. Signs may end up wasted outside of the district because the campaign doesn’t want to offend.
  5. Sign programs are generally started early and due to weather, vandalism, theft, etc will need to be replaced.
  6. I reject the notion that signs make volunteers feel like part of the campaign.  They can, but the campaign needs to not do the easiest thing instead asking them to do something effective – write a facebook status update on WHY they support you, send a post card to their friends, etc.
  7. One final note, I can not tell you how many campaigns that I have been a part of that on the day after the election, we are cleaning out a candidates garage of hundreds of campaign signs that never were distributed.

Research on Campaign Signs

Don’t believe me?  Here is some research on campaign signs.

Alternative to Campaign Signs

I can hear it now, “So, if you don’t like signs, what is the answer? ”

Here is what I would like to see my candidates do instead:

I would prefer my candidates focus like a laser on their critical tasks in a campaign.   With the proper resources, Ozean Consulting can dwarf any increase in name ID by signs with persuasive communications.

If our clients insist on yards signs, fine.  The campaign is responsible for recruiting a sign person.  The rule is the candidate focuses on their tasks and never touches a sign.  The sign persons responsibilities are sign assembly, sign distribution, sign location acquisition, and sign maintenance.   Candidate gets a sign request, they give it to the sign person.  Done.

Is their any role for campaign signs?

If  the campaign insists on a sign program, I would prefer they be of the larger signs located on major rural thorough fares.

If the campaign insists on doing a sign program, take a note from the Obama campaign and charge a small amount and report that amount as a contribution.

If the campaign insists on doing a sign program, recruit a sign person.

Campaign Sign Summary

from Slate:

Signs do not necessarily translate into votes. But just because some people are the expressive kind doesn’t mean they’re always in a mood to express themselves.


So if signs to not translate into votes, why do campaigns insist on doing them?  Please put the money, the time, the campaign people skills into things that matter, things that translate into votes.


About Alex Patton