BY JANE McINNIS
Even if you don't read the news, yard signs around San Ramon make it clear that election time for the city is fast approaching.
Strangely enough, in a time where print is becoming eliminated as online reigns supreme (and more 'green'), the trend of election signs has more than doubled over the past 25 years. According to research conducted by the American National Election Studies data in 2008, aggregate rates of yard displays climbed 12 percent from 1988 to 2008.
John T. Tierney, writer for The Atlantic magazine, brought up the topic of elections signs in an article published in 2012. Tierney wrote observations from his own neck of the woods: a neighbor putting up one sign seemed to spur adjacent neighbors to join in, decorating their lawns with names found on the ballot. He questioned if the displays were the result of something aggressively oppositional.
“When the initial sign is quickly followed by a flurry of others, are the newer-sign folks essentially giving a middle-finger salute to the neighbors down the block? Oh yeah?! HERE’s what I think of your Obama!”
Do people post signs in their front yards to urge passersby to vote for that candidate? Or are they declaring that they themselves are voting for that candidate?
Scholars Anad E. Sokhey and Todd Makse conducted research about the very subject. In 2008, they surveyed people in Franklin County, Ohio during the 2008 presidential election. Their work, “Not in My Front Yard—The Displaying of Yard Signs as a Form of Political Participation,” examines why people believe their intentions are when they post signs.
Of the over 3,320 individuals with yard signs surveyed, 66 percent said it was most important to "show their pride." Only 38 percent answered that the importance of their signs was to “let the neighbors know.”
Makse and Sokhey’s conclusion was that people enjoy posting signs on their front lawns or on the bumpers of their cars because they feel like they’re participating.
Like a NFL football flag on your front porch, you aren’t asking your neighbors to root for your team. You’re showing your colors.
What do you think about election signs? Leave your thoughts in a comment.