Perry shuns yard signs

According to the Texas Tribune, Rick Perry’s campaign is generally avoiding yard signs:

Perry Campaign Eschews Yard Signs

by Elise Hu, The Texas Tribune
September 21, 2010


You won’t be seeing many Rick Perry yard signs this fall — by design. Except for a few that are available for purchase, the governor’s campaign is generally eschewing traditional tools like signs and direct mail, preferring a new set of ways to win over voters.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://trib.it/a6hCqR.

Of course, the Perry campaign is half right about yard signs. Citizens are not driving through neighborhoods, counting yard signs, and voting as their neighbor say. However, yard signs might still be worth keeping around.

Many supporters expect that they’ll be able to get yard signs to proclaim their support and they’ll be frustrated when they don’t get to express their views to the neighbors. It may not be rational, but anyone thinking they can explain Texas politics in purely rational terms is going to get a headache.

Yard signs can also be a way that communities convey their norms. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann‘s “spiral of silence” theory suggests that people will become less likely to voice an opinion if they feel that they are in the minority because they want to avoid isolation from the majority. It’s very much like peer group pressure and yard signs can be a way that citizens could get the message that they need to fit in.

Yard signs may have no significant impact. On the other hand, most of what campaigns do has little impact. There is some evidence that campaign ads have an impact, but it’s not clear that the effect is large or enduring. I suspect that campaigns spend a lot of time and effort on things that have little impact. Most of the press releases coming out of the Perry and White campaigns are silly and irrelevant and I can’t imagine them being read and taken seriously by anyone.

If campaign consultants were honest they would have to admit that they’re unsure about the value of most of what they do. Yard signs, like much of the campaign, don’t make much sense.  Do they have to?

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