Signs along the road "VOTE BUSH!" "VOTE GORE!" Are they for pure idiots?

What blistering imbecile is driving along the road thinking, “I don’t know who to vote for. Hey, there’s a sign someone hammered into the grass next to the on-ramp that says ‘VOTE BUSH’. OK, he’s my man!”

Do the country a favor, Gomer, and stay the fuck away from the voting booth. If you are swayed by a goddamn sign, not only are you too stupid to vote, but it’s miracle of modern technology than your gene-line made through 16 years of natural selection to keep you alive long enough to get a driver’s license. If you were born a couple hundred years ago, you’d be passing through something’s digestive system long before you got a chance to make any decision more important than which finger to scratch your asshole with.

Did you know that Tibet was almost granted independence when, on a visit to America, Deng Xiao Ping almost saw a “Free Tibet” bumpersticker. Luckily, he was able to avert his eyes in time


So, you can put your political philosophy on your bumper, but not on your front lawn?

When did the Supreme Court rule on that??

What really annoys me is when people oh-so-proudly display signs proclaiming their candidate of choice in front of their house. Like my dad.

I think it only works on no-name candidates with positions no one cares about. If the person hasn’t made up their mind over who they want for oh, say “grand high dutchess of pothole fund restructuring” and they see a sign with their name on it, they might remember that in the voting booth. Otherwise, I think it is just to show your neighbors what your party is.

::runs off and looks at the Pat Tiberi sign in his yard::

I don’t know why people vote however they do. I myself am mystified at the expectations of the persuasive appeal of a sheet of correx on a suburban lawn, but millions of dollars go into their printing (and, as a printer, I know there is a strict C.O.D. policy on their production). TV commercials of people coming together as a family and eating breakfast on the sun-slashed porches of huge Victorian houses don’t inspire me to buy corn flakes that only stick to my teeth and have no effect on my family life after all, and so in the same vein I ignore television political ads as effortlessly as I do lawn signs. But again, millions go into their production as well - so much so that campaign finance reform is the dirty issue that won’t go away and will neither be addressed.

My heartfelt question to you dopers is this: So what is the upshot of political advertising? From (Democrat) coffee klatch / Lincoln bedroom sleepovers / Buddhist lamsery shake-downs, to (Republican) corporate bag-boy candidates, what is all the money buying? Signs and commercials we just ignore?

Since the Straight Dope Has its core readership in Chicago, a city where political acumen is an instrument both blunt and razor sharp (the campaign ad says simply “Vote for Alderman X” and Chicagoans know it really says “Vote for Alderman X or your cars will be snow-plowed in and your trash cans crushed and never replaced”), I hope to hear some input that wouldn’t occur to me on my own.

BTW - my view of the political process was articulated years before my birth when Will Rogers’ observed that we Americans don’t for anyone - we just vote against.

Freyr, in case you missed it, my ire is not at the person who displays the sign, but the brain-dead goat-nut-sack licker that votes on mere name recognition.

Hmm…I wonder how your common garden variety “brain-dead goat-nut-sack licker” would react to this billboard? He’d probably just pull over to the side of the road so he could sit and stare, slack-jawed and drooling, trying to make sense of it.

My paper did a story on this very subject a few weeks back. It doesn’t directly attack the question of “does political signage work?” but it delves into some of the “whys” of this issue.
Everywhere a Sign

It’s called name recognition. As others have said, it works best for local elections where the voters don’t know jack. From pete. They will pick a name, any name. And you’d be surprised how many people do this. Or they’ll walk into the booth knowing the candidates (e.g. Bush and Gore), but are still undecided who they’ll vote for. In these cases name recognition is important.

And that’s where these political signs come in. It works subliminally in a sense because the voter may not know WHY he finally picks one over the other. But election specialists believe that in these cases the man with better name recognition will win. The exposure can be t.v., radio, or print, but print is by far the cheapest–hence a thousand signs. It is also the reason why in most t.v. ads, they will repeat their candidate’s name over and over, but will rarely refer to other guy by name.

Name recognition.

This also is why a guy with the last name of Kennedy has a much better chance of winning any election, sight unseen, than a guy named Jankowicz.

It’s not what the forefathers envisioned, but there it is.

It’s also a way for people to show their support for candidates, as SPOOFE’s father does–same as with bumper stickers, same as with buttons.

The even worse billboards are these:


With no explanation.

How are you supposed to remember which is which if they don’t even mention the title?

Does anybody who is undecided have all the propositions memorized by letter? No.

I proudly have a Harry Browne sign (although the rain did it some damage) and drive around with a Harry Browne bumper sticker on my car.

Why? Because I want to get out the word of my choice, my vote, my beliefs. Yes, I do want the sign that say’s “No on 24” because it takes development out of the hands of developers and into the hands of the voters…come to think of it I will contact the org that is against it and get a sign. It’s a state wide initiative that will strangle our economy.

If nothing else those signs get people thinking. So many people these days are so appathetic when it comes to politics that it is possible that some will wake up and get out there and start to vote again. Hey I got involved again even if I believe that both Bush and Gore are bumbling idiots that just want to create more and more government.

Oh and my father, just last night, tried to tell me I am wasting my vote. I calmly explained to him that if I only had those two as choices I wouldn’t vote at all so my vote is not being wasted. I am voting my beliefs not for who is the lesser of two evils – it’s not a popularity contest and my vote is stating I am tired of politics as usual.

Oh a side note:

Vote for Harry Browne – Libertarian for President

< my virtual yard sign >

I could give a rats ass less about the signs, but why won’t the people who hang them from every consevable place come back and pick the damn things up after the election?

Here in Ohio, it’s the responsibility of the candidate’s committee to come get the signs after the election. I suppose if they aren’t picked up in a reasonable amount of time, some guy at City Hall gets to call them and harrass them.

Damn! I want that job.

Now if we could only get the guys who staple up the “Lose 50 Pounds in 6 days” signs to take them down.

I still remember those “Bush/Quayle” stickers from eight years ago that trumpeted BUSH in huge white letters on a dark blue field, while in much smaller dark red letters was the word quayle that you could barely see…hmmmm, I wonder what the party was trying to say…

These perplex me, too, yet the other day…

See, I haven’t yet done all my research on what proposal is which and how I feel I’d like to vote. Planning on doing that in the next few weeks. Anyhow, yesterday I was heading through a neighborhood and every single house on the block (it seemed) had a sign for a proposal B. I found myself looking at the houses and trying to get a feel for the neighborhood, as if that would give me some sort of clue as to whether or not I’d be likely to agree with their politics. This is exactly the sort of dumbass reasoning that rightfully annoyed the OP, I know, but in my case it was idle curiosity. I’m planning to actually inform myself before Nov 7 rolls around. But I suspect there are people who do operate that way. Standing in the voting booth, scratching their head, finally deciding “Oh, those idiots with the ugly car in the driveway had a sign for proposal 1… I guess I’ll vote against it.”

The point of the signs is not to sway you based on what they say, but on who displays them.

People want to vote for winners (which is why there is a controversy about showing how states voted mid-election, it skews later votes.) If you see that everybody around you is voting for a candidate, that may affect your vote.

If you drive through your town and see a lot of “Vote Bush” signs, you are likely to think the Bush must be popular. You might also think that he has a presence in your community and represents it’s best interests since so many of the populace have displayed the sign.

It’s also to impress you. If you see a sign near a nice house, clean, wealthy, whatever, you are bound to think that clean or wealthy people that live in nice houses tend to vote for Bush. You may envy, or identify with them, and this may affect your vote.

Subtle peer pressure.

They do work.

A good thing to do with those signs is to go out and collect several hundred in the middle of the night and put them all up in your enemy’s yard.

No on 38!