About Those Campaign Signs

An Open Letter to Political Candidates:

I realize you didn’t ask for my opinion about your campaign signs. You are, no doubt, even more sick of them than those of us who’ve merely had to look at your signs for the past several months. But every time an election year rolls around, I give a lot of thought to signs. I study them. I talk with other voters about them. Maybe campaign signs fascinate me because I have a degree in Political Science. Or maybe because, years ago, I was a political candidate myself. (I won once and lost once, using the same exact signs in both elections.)

So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I think about your signs. These suggestions are, of course, too late for this election, but maybe they’ll help next time.

• You don’t have to prove your patriotism by using red, white and blue or some combination thereof. Or by including stars and/or stripes in your graphics. Rather than making your signs stand out in the crowd, such choices actually make them blend in. Kudos to the candidates who’ve dared to use a touch of yellow or green in their signs, or who’ve even been so bold as to choose something radical like orange-and-black.

• Choose a font big enough so that a person driving the speed limit can read what your sign says. Don’t clutter a small sign with your photograph or the words “Please Elect” or “Vote For.” Just put your name and what office you’re seeking.

• White letters on a dark background show up better than dark letters on a white background.

• Big signs are better than little ones. I haven’t done a cost comparison, but I can’t help but believe you get more bang for your buck with a few large sign on sturdy posts than a whole lot of small signs on flimsy wires.

• Don’t waste time or money by putting your sign on a right-of-way with dozens of other signs. Do you honestly think anyone bothers reading those signs? Or checks to see if yours is there? And don’t you know that not long after you hammer your sign into the ground, another candidate will come along and put his or hers right in front of it?

• A sign in someone’s yard carries a lot more weight than a sign on a public right-of-way. “Oh…,” I might mutter to myself when I see a sign on a friend or neighbor’s property, “if so-and-so is supporting so-and-so for such-and-such an office, maybe I should, too.” When I see I sign on some random shoulder of the road, I think “Dang. More litter.”

• Before you buy a whole lot of signs, perhaps you should consider whether your money could be better spent elsewhere. Might newspaper and radio ads, direct mailings, bumper stickers, phone calls and door-to-door visits be more effective?

• Take your signs down as soon as possible once the election is over. Please, oh please.

(August 3, 2014)

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