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The Psychology Of Campaign Lawn Signs, Do They Work?

August 19th, 2015 · 54 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics

Ganim Pita

Joe Ganim supporter Mike Pita displays newest lawn sign in HQ.

Lawn signs don’t vote, people do! How often have your heard that? In the Democratic primary for mayor, campaigns seek every possible edge to push a few extra votes their way. Former Mayor Joe Ganim hopes a tax message catches fire. And perhaps other camps will coin their own phrases.

Finch supporters convention

Finch supporters with signs at Testo’s. CT Post photo Christian Abraham.

David Rosen, on behalf of Campaigns & Elections, provides insight into the psychology of lawn/yard signs:

Yard signs are the bane of most consultants and campaign staffers, but they don’t have to be if you approach them with the right attitude.

If you’re asking whether or not they win votes and benefit the overall campaign, you’re likely to see yard signs as a frustrating distraction and a waste of precious resources. After all, the scientific research into yard signs has yielded mixed results. In fact, we don’t really know whether they make a difference in overall campaign performance.

Whenever answers are elusive, it’s often because we’re asking the wrong questions. So instead of debating the macro effects of yard signs on the overall campaign, it’s far more constructive to focus on their micro effects: How yard signs can be leveraged effectively to change the behavior of individual voters and win new supporters.

So how might we use social and situational influence techniques to you keep your yard signs working?

Full story here.

David Rosen is the founder of First Person Politics, a consultancy that specializes in the strategic applications of political psychology. Follow him at @firstpersonpol

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54 Comments so far ↓

  • Maria Pereira

    I asked every single voter who committed to vote for Joe today if I could put up this new sign. Every single voter I spoke with said yes. The street is lit up like a Christmas tree. I also dropped off seven on another street. I went by less than an hour later and two of them had already been stolen with the wire left behind.

    One house on Huntington Turnpike has had the sign stolen twice with the wire left behind. Tonight we moved the sign into a well-lit area so the homeowner could catch which Finch minion is acting like a five-year-old.

    I hope it is a city employee so we can report it to the CT Post.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Personally, I do not believe signs work, most people already know whom they are voting for. I think most people just like seeing the candidate they are voting for. Very few people go to the polls thinking golly gee, but we stand out there anyway.

    I think the new Ganim signs are clever but visually assaulting and considering Mayor Finch is not raising taxes this year and car taxes are coming down, it seems Ganim is preying on the ignorance of his supporters.

    Finch could easily come out with a sign that reads:
    Stop Corruption History repeats, Vote Finch Sept. 16
    :-)

    • OlofsonD

      Steve, the only reason you’re saying lawn signs don’t matter is because the Ganim ones outnumber the Finch ones at least 2 to 1 by the way I see it. And how are they visually assaulting? Finch HAS raised taxes over and over again making taxes more expensive than mortgages. Just because Finch didn’t raise taxes this year, which is obvious because it’s an election year, I guess it’s visually assaulting pointing out a fact. Just the same way i’ts visually assaulting the Finch campaign creating a website stating facts about Ganim’s past mistakes. Mhm.

      • Robert Teixeira

        As for the corruption in Bridgeport, that pendulum swings both ways from what I read here. But when it comes to taxes I think it would be necessary to take a look at the economy. Ganim’s reign as mayor was during an economic boom, of course taxes wouldn’t have to have been raised, and the same can be said for Fabrizi. Finch became mayor in one of the worst global financial depressions since the 1930′s.
        www .youtube.com/watch?v=MUhOxS-F-Zk
        Two words, Greece and Puerto Rico, this is what happens when a government doesn’t raise taxes and make smart cuts in spending and borrows money to maintain their government operation it can’t currently afford. It’s kind of like someone gets laid off and still goes out eat and takes their annual vacation on their credit cards.
        www .youtube.com/watch?v=RfE3pu5-v0A
        If you want to have an honest conversation on taxes and what mayor has a better record, you can’t talk about it without addressing the economy current situation they had to deal with. PS, signs work, it’s called promotions.
        www .youtube.com/watch?t=159&v=3vgf0dmzEf0

      • Steven Auerbach

        What neighborhood are you? You really need to get out more. I think Coviello has more signs than Ganim and he only puts one lawn sign per property, not six! Lololol.

    • Wicca

      What about the institutional corruption of running a re-election effort in City Hall paid for with taxpayer dollars? That’s illegal, and the Finch Campaign is doing it. Right in our faces. Day after day. What will stop that corruption?

      Answer: Mary-Jane Foster.

      As long as Bill Finch keeps getting what he wants, why should he change his formula for success? People do not change when they are getting what they want with bad (or in this case, immoral and illegal) behavior. They just don’t.

      The rumor-dropping by the Finch campaign is getting laughable too. I would not be the least bit surprised if they are employing a rumor-maker and paying for that with taxpayer dollars. Oh … Wai t… That’s Brett Broesder.

    • Jimfox

      Finch had nothing to do with lowering car taxes! Finch has no clue about this year’s budget, one week they have
      REVENUES $524,972,314.08
      EXPENSES $524,506,276.57
      Net Surplus (Deficit) $466,037.51
      then
      REVENUES $521,988,899

      The next week they have a
      Net Surplus (Deficit) $16,487,520

      How can we run a City like Bridgeport when you have a Mayor who has not balanced the budget since Joe Ganim was in office!

      • John Marshall Lee

        Jim,
        I share your opinion the Mayor does not have a clue as to the fiscal state of the City at any given time. I do not subscribe to the info you just posted, but I do believe the DRAFT June 30, 2015 financial report that closes out that year shows a $16,487,000 surplus. Why is no one bragging about this in the Finch campaign office? Is this an important issue to taxpayers? Time will tell.

      • Jimfox

        JML, because the Finch numbers are not REAL!

  • Maria Pereira

    Steve, I just want you to know, after walking in Thomas Hooker for weeks now, I am 100% positive Mayor Finch has absolutely no chance of winning Thomas Hooker. And I do mean absolutely no chance.

  • Local Eyes

    Joe Ganim didn’t raise taxes because he didn’t have to. In 1991, Bridgeport banks failed, producing the S&L bailout. What was bad for Bridgeport banks was good for Ganim. It produced the windfall that lead to to his downfall.

  • Wicca

    Whatever anyone thinks about signs, Bridgeporters like them.

    I do think signs have an impact. For those who are on the fence, seeing lots of yard signs can provide an insight into who has more widespread support. If the perception of not “throwing ones vote away” is a factor in the decision-making process, sign sightings could seal the deal.

    Signs energize voters and keep the election in plain view. For the impassioned activist, signs can provide a way of influencing those in their immediate residential vicinity.

    I do believe in yard signs. I don’t think they are a waste of money, at least not in Bridgeport and Fairfield.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Wicca, as you have said on a number of posts. I have all the answers and it is comical.

      You know what is comical, Mary-Jane Foster has not one lawn sign, you know what is even more comical, Foster and her supporters like you are still going after Finch and not Ganim. It’s like you have not realized Joe Ganim has pretty much solidified every anti-Finch vote and Finch supporters are solid.

      Btw, since nobody here mentioned it, Mayor Finch had an outstanding interview on NPR. The interviewer did not sugarcoat anything from the Mary McBride misstep to the police information. Finch was grilled and his responses were very thoughtful, professional and confident. I especially loved the emphasis on the working relationship with Hartford, the image along 95, Downtown, Phase 2 of Steelpointe, they even grilled him on the attempted takeover of the school board. He sounded like the man who will be re-elected.

      I wish he would start putting out lawn signs. I do not understand the concept of waiting two weeks before an election.

      Maria, you are 100 percent confident in Hooker school? Andy is right, there may be Ganim signs but they will not vote for him. Are you believing Andres Ayala has lost his support base completely? Mayor Finch? Melanie?

      You will be Ganim’s savior at least in one district and that is entirely possible. Not likely!

      • Wicca

        Stevie, do you still have your Musto sign up? ;)

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          Steve probably has George Wallace signs in his garage.

          • Maria Pereira

            Good one! :)

          • Steven Auerbach

            Maria, really a good one? George Wallace? Derek Brown, where do you get off making racist comments like that and think you can get away with it? You sound like a moron and sorry Maria, but hey what can I say? I think the guitarist from Black Rock just cannot stand he posts twice as much as I do and the length of his posts beats JML and only Maria and BptPorter respond to him. There is a difference making a comment for its shock value and another for making a character assassination. I do not appreciate it and it makes you look pretty stupid. I know you do not care. But hey, my friend Maria thought it was funny. Maybe the humor went over my head. I don’t think so. Derek, do you spend time with the white supremacists looking ridiculous in hoods in Derby and then come back to Bridgeport to hang out with your peeps? Methinks thou dost protest too much. Way too much. Very curious indeed.

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            Steve,
            Call 2-1-1. There has to be a 12-step group to help you.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Wicca, I never had a Musto sign nor did I do any campaigning for him. I just did not support Marilyn Moore. She got my vote after the primary. The difference between Musto and Foster, Finch and Moran is I have or am working for the latter three. I only debated on Musto’s behalf. I really never had more than a 10-minute conversation with him, but he did seem like a sincere gentlemen. Wicca, I am however, working for Mayor Finch and I can assure you there is a huge difference. So don’t you worry. What you are getting on the blog doesn’t even come close. But my gut tells me you knew that already!

      • Maria Pereira

        Steve, one minute you are stating lawn signs do not make a difference in voter commitment and/or turnout, and the next minute you are concerned the Finch campaign is wrong for delaying them en masse. Which one is it?

      • Maria Pereira

        That’s right, Steve. I am 100% confident Mayor Finch will not only lose Thomas Hooker, but he will lose there in a big way.

      • Maria Pereira

        Steve, not only am I confident Mayor Finch will lose Thomas Hooker, I am confident he will lose by a significant margin. It will not even be close.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Maria, Maria, Maria, you are too funny.

          I do not believe lawn signs work. I like seeing my candidates’ lawn signs.

          The Mayor, Bd. of Ed, Jackson, Morton, Ayala have not even started campaigning in the 138th. I hate to rain on your parade. But here I am. I appreciate your confidence, but it’s not realistic. I think for some strange reason the 138th is one of the last districts to concentrate on. There must be 50 signs that have not gone up. Like Foster, I think a two-week-before-election strategy, plus keep in mind, Foster has not been up there yet and she will most likely be taking Ganim votes. 100 percent confident. Think again!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      One of my favorite signs in Bridgeport was a bed sheet hanging on a chain link fence on Washington Avenue. It was painted with Rustoleum and advertised a Jamaican takeout restaurant.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Yes, Bridgeport likes signs. If a sign is on a side street, by a bridge, not in someone’s yard, and a campaign worker knocks it over into the creek bank, is that OK? Asking for a friend.

  • canobeano

    Using what amounts to an illegal traffic sign to promote yourself. Although somewhat innocuous, this is yet a pretty great example of the type of person Joe Ganim is: a cheater more than willing bend and break rules he clearly thinks are only meant for others to follow. This guy’s every move makes me cringe.

  • Maria Pereira

    Canobeano, what law or rule regarding lawn signs is Joe breaking?

  • Local Eyes

    Rumor Mill: there’s a lawn sign near all Ganim’s HQs that says: Get Rid of the comeback kid.
    The tiny print says: No mayor likes to raise taxes but Mayor Finch upheld his oath, the other guy, not so much. Think of the future.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The incestuous relationship between the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee and City Hall was institutionalized by the general antipathy of the electorate. The DTC endorses and fields candidates who only serve to benefit its leadership. The organization is hedging its bets this year, supporting two candidates for mayor. State lawmakers view Bridgeport as entertainment, a cheaply produced soap opera with a cast of bad actors.

    And here we are, arguing about the merits of yard signs. Advertising is all fine and good but it really doesn’t do anything to address the malaise of pessimism among likely voters; too many of them are resigned to the fact “the more it seems to change the more it stays the same.” This is campaign season but no one is asking the candidates directly”“What are you going to do about the dysfunctional system of evaluating taxes?” or “What are you going to do about the shitty school system?” or “What are you going to do about all the shootings?” The fucking lawn signs are not going to make those issues better nor will the lawn signs make them go away.

    Campaign for the candidate of your choice and may the best one prevail on election day. After all the euphoria or disappointment, after all the free booze and catered food has been consumed, after we’ve slept off the resultant hangover, the problems will still be there. The next mayor of Bridgeport must be held to task by US, the people of the city of Bridgeport.

  • Local Eyes

    He who displays phony STOP signs as part of their campaign encourages automobile accidents at the expense of public safety (whew!) and he who displays a phony police substation shows little respect for public safety. Next time Trumbull Gardens needs help I hope no one runs to a plastic banner next to a locked door.

  • BOE SPY

    The idea someone would vote for a candidate because of a yard sign is MORE repugnant than they would vote for a candidate because of their party affiliation. At least the party affiliation lets you know something about the candidate.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    In Bridgeport, party affiliation means “Part of a corrupt political machine,” or not.

  • MAGOO

    If you work and live in the City, it is your DUTY to place a sign on your lawn. Finch has people like the woodpecker traveling around keeping track of known City workers who might be looking to support someone else. Finch is nothing but a lying mutt.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Is Finch a liar, or is Adam “pecker” Wood the liar? After all, Peckerwood is the one who tells Finchsky what to say, Peckerwood is the one who pulls the strings to make Finchsky’s mouth open and close.

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