Why Every U.S. President Uses Yard Signs

November 4, 2015

No modern U.S. president has been elected without employing yard signs as campaign marketing tools. But are yard signs still effective, or are they holdovers from the days in which the only way voters received information was through print media? In a world where political debate questions are culled from Twitter and campaign spending is tightly monitored, why is it that every U.S. president continues to use yard signs? Simply put, yard signs work. To the casual observer, yard signs might seem to be little more than individual expressions of support – support for a candidate or an issue. But a closer look at the psychology behind yard signs reveals intriguing findings that illustrate why yard signs are so critical to campaign success, whether you’re running for president or city council. Yard signs not only demonstrate individual support; in fact, they can be used to loosely predict election winners. When media members notice a lot of yard signs touting a given candidate, they’re more likely to provide coverage of that candidate’s campaign. That coverage, in turn, reaches far more voters than the yard signs alone – thus, a few hundred yard signs can spur a snowball effect that helps the campaign branch out to thousands of voters via media coverage. Interestingly, yard signs engage younger voters, who aren’t as politically active as older generations (Slate). They’re also contagious. When someone posts a yard sign, it’s almost a sure bet their neighbors will soon post their own – and, since neighborhoods tend to share demographics and interests, neighbors are likely to support the same candidates. Yard signs are also important for candidate branding. Name recognition is key at the polls, as even less-engaged voters are more likely to vote for people whose names they recognize. In fact, Vanderbilt University found that voters not only are more likely to support candidates whose names they recognize, they’re also more likely to find those candidates to be more viable politicians. How powerful is name recognition? In one study, Vanderbilt University placed yard signs promoting a fictional candidate, “Ben Griffin,” near an elementary school. After just three days, they polled parents near the school and asked them to list their top three candidates in an upcoming election. The survey offered several options, including two fictitious candidates, one of which was Ben Griffin. The result? Nearly 25 percent of the respondents placed Ben Griffin in their list of top three candidates. If yard signs with low distribution can propel a fictional candidate to the top in just three days, what do you think hundreds of signs strategically placed throughout your city or county could do over a period of several weeks? Indeed, yard signs are critical political marketing tools whose power extends far beyond individual support and permeates the media and minds of voters. That’s why every U.S. president uses yard signs, and why you need yard signs if you’re vying for office. Print premium-quality yard signs at discount prices now.

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

Yard signs also are a hot item that are in high demand during campaign seasons. I never considered that yard signs can loosely help predict campaign outcomes.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

Brad, you're absolutely right! Not only can yard signs loosely help predict campaign outcomes, they influence campaign outcomes - which is the primary reason nearly all candidates use yard signs (including U.S. presidents). Thanks for sharing!

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