The Lonely Little Yardsign

As I'm hanging around the SD War College's Eastern Branch in Brookings this weekend, just down the street from Congresswoman Herseth's new house, I noticed something that brought up some advice from my past.

Next door to me, I have a neighbor who has a yardsign promoting the "vote Yes" campaign for Tuesday's Municipal Election over giving Lowe's major financial concessions to move here, even though I prefer Menards. (Not that anyone asked me).

Anyway, regarding that yardsign in my neighbor's front yard - damn, is that a lonely little sign. My street is straight as an arrow, and very flat. You can look all the way up the street to the new Herseth residence, and all the way down the street to where it ends. And you don't see another "vote Yes" sign anywhere.

In fact, you see about 7 or 8 coroplast "slow down, children playing" signs. And only one lonely "Yes" sign. If a person was taking a gut check on support for the measure simply based on the signs, they'd think "the people around here don't support this." Which brings up an interesting twist in using Yard Signs.

When I worked for the GOP waaaay back in 1988, my boss was Bill Protexter, who was and is a pretty nice guy. I was very, very green in the political process at that point, so I have Bill to thank for some of what I know. Bill had left politics a while back only to return, and he's now Senator Chuck Hagel's State Director in Nebraska.

Anyway, if my faulty memory is correct, one of the things Bill had noted to me was that yardsigns can be tough, because if you do them, you need to do them big. Otherwise it doesn't look like you have support, or that your support is spotty.

And as evidenced by the Vote Yes yardsigns for this election in Brookings, I would tend to agree. It's like virtually no one supports it. Although in truth, it's likely that it is supported by more people than the couple dozen yardsigns would indicate.

The best example I ever saw was the same year I worked for Bill, in 1988. A local Pierre candidate, Mike Shaw, was running for the legislature and had these yardsigns that bordered on being hideous. They had a picture of him converted into a high contrast single color photo, and it was in blue on a red white and blue glossy yardsign that said "I Like Mike."

When those signs went up, it's as if they were inescapable. They were everywhere. And not just the usual everywhere. They were REALLY everywhere. On every street, on every corner - there was hardly a yard in town that was untouched. And on election day - his numbers were devastatingly strong. Over 300 votes more than his running mate for a 2 member house district. He was 2400 votes more than Democrat Peggy Cruse, who had been serving in the legislature - over 2400 voted more than the incumbent.

If you've got a good yardsign team, they can work wonders for your campaign on a local level. If it's only going to be 2 or three yards? Don't bother. You need to have a strong presence. If you don't it can end up being more of a liability than an asset.

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