SCIENCE: Your Campaign Yard Sign Has Very Little Effect
A new study shows that the election signage that dots America’s yards and mars its busier intersections every other autumn has very little effect on actual voting results and absolutely zero effect on turnout.
Half a dozen professors from colleges and universities around the country conducted the research. In voting precincts chosen at random, they planted lawn signs for a candidate for Congress, a candidate for mayor, a candidate for county commissioner and an independent expenditure campaign.
The study transpired over the course of about 30 months in three states: New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The professors concluded that the lawn signs they planted boosted vote share by 1.7 percent in the precinct where the sign was placed (and possibly had some negligible effect on precincts located nearby). The research showed that the signs had no effect on voter turnout.
“Millions of dollars are spent each election cycle on political lawn signs,” said High Point University professor Brandon Lenoir, one of the researchers, in a press release. “We wanted to see if the signs are worth the paper they are printed on. Turns out, the conventional belief that lawn signs win elections isn’t supported.”
Lenoir noted that the finds show that yard signs could influence the outcome of a close election — within two points. Most of the time, though, the signs make no difference.
“Bottom line: campaign dollars are better spent elsewhere,” Lenoir said.
“Lawn signs can make a difference in close elections. If it is a blowout, the money spent on lawn signs might be better used on canvassing which has been shown to be more effective,” the professor told The Daily Caller.
“In a perfect world where both campaigns had equal resources and planted the same number of signs, we could assume there would be a cancelling effect,” Lenoir added.
In addition to Lenoir, the professors involved in the study are Alexander Coppock and Donald P. Green of Columbia University, Jonathan S. Krasno of Binghamton University, Benjamin D. Farrer of Knox College and Joshua N. Zingher of Old Dominion University.