Election time is rolling around again here in Albuquerque, you can tell by the swarms of signs littering busy intersections in residential areas. What is the purpose of political campaign signs? They rarely disclose any relevant information on the candidate. Most of the time they don’t even display a photograph of the person. So what’s the point?
It amazes me that wanna-be politicians pay for huge billboards and thousands of yard signs that say almost nothing about their values and why we should vote for them. Its just plain crazy to me when I see a jumbo billboard with nothing but “vote for candidate X”. How can someone justify spending that much on advertising without sharing just a little bit about themselves? I find myself wondering, “Why should I vote for you? Because you have a big ass billboard and a huge budget?” Gimme a break.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all campaign signs need to include a detailed life story with an index and bibliography, but they need to give us something. A quote perhaps, maybe even what they plan on doing once in office. What a concept.
As you cast your ballot this season, ask yourself- am I voting for this person because they will best serve the community? Or am I filling in a circle next to their name because I remember the dazzling font and color combination on their signs? Chances are it’s a little bit of both.

Views: 5

Comment by Nora on May 30, 2008 at 9:21pm
I think the assumption is that if you trust the people who have the sign in their yard you'll take that endorsement as worth something. If I like my neighbors, generally agree with them on most things, and don't feel like making the effort to actually research candidates, I can get a pretty good idea of who to vote for by checking out their yard signs. Not that that sort of thinking actually creates an informed public, of course.

Also, the signs on cars, bumper stickers, etc do foster tribal unity. I get warm and fuzzy feelings toward people with Obama stickers and signs even if I don't know them just like I get warm and fuzzy feelings about them if they're wearing a t-shirt for a comic or band that I like, carrying a book that I like, or whatever signs of tribal affiliation any particular subculture is using.
Comment by hettie on May 30, 2008 at 10:22pm
I agree with nora. also, it's surprising (or not really, now that I think cynically consider it) how many people end up in a voting booth without any idea what the various candidates stand for. and those people are more likely to vote for a candidate they've heard of, if only by virtue of driving by a big ass billboard every day, than for a name that's never previously entered their conscious or subconscious mind. the actual number of candidate signs around the city can influence this too, I think. there's some kind of logic that goes "I don't know anything about candidate A, but so many people seem to support her that some of them must have done their homework to decide she's a good choice." pretty f&*#ing lame. it's the reason sheer name recognition (and the money to buy it) is such a huge part of politics.
Comment by the boy on May 30, 2008 at 10:42pm
Also, signage is good for name recognition. Signs detached from facts mean that when you get to the ballot booth you know someones name, and little else about them. That's the most cynical take, but name recognition serves other purposes - if you see a name, and if that name gets lodged in your head, you have something to look up online when you get home.

Give this modern era and the vast array of information available on the internet, campaigns can make signs heavy on the names and trust that those who want information will find it. The other way to get information is through those fun little ads that people discard as junk mail every November (some ads are worth keeping, though). These are wholly biased facts, but the facts candidates want you to know.

Oh, and the vote for me because I have a huge budget and a name on a billboard? It works, to a degree. You know who they are, and you know that they are a serious candidate. Low budget campaigns do not have the best of records.
Comment by Benny the Icepick on May 31, 2008 at 8:30am
//those people are more likely to vote for a candidate they've heard of, if only by virtue of driving by a big ass billboard every day//
I will make a frightening and embarrassing admission. When doing the early voting thing earlier this week, there was one position where I knew nothing whatsoever about the candidates. I voted for the one whose stickers and yard signs and billboards were everywhere.
Comment by Chris K. on May 31, 2008 at 3:22pm
Regarding Bumper Stickers, I hate to see someone with a bumper sticker for a candidate I support driving like a moron. Do not piss people off if you are a rolling billboard for your favorite politico.

If you cut someone off and the first thing they see is a Joe Blow 08 bumper sticker I am sure it won't be a ringing endorsement.
Comment by Chris K. on May 31, 2008 at 3:23pm
And Izquierdo, wouldn't you rather be an informed voter than make decisions based on your assumption that people with big billboards are corrupt?
Comment by Benny the Icepick on May 31, 2008 at 3:35pm
I think I'm going to start manufacturing yard signs for random candidates, with "mud flap girls" as the background. Now THAT would make a political statement. Great way to sabotage a campaign, no?
Comment by the boy on May 31, 2008 at 3:42pm
I like the signage as a form of solidarity - in the rough days of late 2004, it was reassuring to come home to a block covered in Kerry/Edwards signs.

@Benny - Nora and I once tried to make "Candidate for Office" signs and stickers, which I'd love to just plaster everywhere. And I'm thinking bare minimum production, black text on white.
Comment by ABQSkippy on October 8, 2008 at 10:09pm
Clovis is a helluva lot bigger than Wasilla!

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