Nov 4, 2008 General Nonsense |
There are many election-related signs in my town. Some signs are in lawns, or along public roads. Others are waved by small groups of enthusiasts at major intersections. These signs make me a little bit sad, because there are only two explanations for their existence:

1. Voters are so dumb they can be swayed by signs.


2. Signs make no difference whatsoever but the people running for office and supporting various ballot propositions are too dumb to realize it.

Either way, it's not a good thing.

Down the road from my house a guy has been spending hours a day standing at an intersection vigorously waving an Obama sign. I don't mean to be unkind, but my story demands that you know this fellow looks like a bit of a douche bag. The only information he is conveying is that if you vote for Obama you can belong to a group that includes at least one douche bag, guaranteed. (I have not ruled out the possibility that he secretly supports McCain and this is some sort of dirty trick.)

If you are a registered voter in the United States, today you must choose between the Antichrist and the only guy that scares the piss out of the Antichrist. My strategy involves buying a wheelbarrow and waiting for the rapture. I understand there will be a lot of gold fillings and diamond earrings left for me and my homeys.
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Nov 4, 2008
re: the ones on houses, I'm pretty sure people's desire to show that they are for or against someone is more relevant. People want to be seen to be in the group
Nov 4, 2008

>>Down the road from my house a guy has been spending hours a day standing at an >>intersection vigorously waving an Obama sign. I don't mean to be unkind, but my story >>demands that you know this fellow looks like a bit of a douche bag.

>>The only information he is conveying is that if you vote for Obama you can belong to a group >>that includes at least one douche bag, guaranteed. (I have not ruled out the possibility that >>he secretly supports McCain and this is some sort of dirty trick.)

You can look at it many ways,

#1) A douche bag, who doesn't want to earn his living because he thinks it is too tough to move his hands or use his brain to earn, is spending his energy campaigning for Obama, it tells you how good the other guy is.

#2) A douche bag can decide between Obama and McCain, so it should take the thinking out for some of the brain-lazy folks who think deciding between Obama and McCain is as tough as solving a n-degree polynomial equation.

#3) If Obama is giving hope for a douche bag, it should do wonders for "non" douche bags.


Nov 4, 2008
I know one guy that really loves those signs. at least the really big ones that you see tied onto fences. This guy is a remodeling contractor. Those signs are made from some really nice corragated plastic. They are easy to cut with tin snips or a sharp knife. He cuts them to shape and lays them down for floor protectors while he is remodeling peoples homes. I he accidentaly drops a hammer or prybar no harm is done. And they are free, easy to work with, light weight but strong and store easily. Hows that for a handyman tip?
Nov 4, 2008
It doesn't matter who you vote for -- the government always gets in.
Nov 4, 2008
My take on the signs is that they are there so that you recognize the candidates names. If you go into the voting booth and can only remember one name, you are probably going to vote for them. Unless of course you remember the name of the person you didn't want to vote for. In that case, just write your own name down, because you are officially too stupid to vote and we don't want you !$%*!$%* it up for everyone else.
Nov 4, 2008
I read an interesting story about a study on road rage. An attempt was made to find some common denominator (in the vehicles or the drivers). The surprise answer was - bumper stickers. People with bumper stickers - no matter how benign - were much more likely to have road rage. It may have something to do with wanting to control other people.

I wonder if the same kind of people tend to have political signs?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
Sorry for being slightly off topic, but an idea just ran to my head.

Why not put the candidates in realistically simulated crisis situations during the campaign, with full tv-coverage?

Much of the discussions have been about experience or lack of it - but experience is in my opinion not something that you can measure in years as guvernor, CEO or similar. You can surely find someone who has been a guvenor for years who you wouldn't trust the White House.

As any other reality show out there the simulated crisis for presidential candidates would give the voters a chance to see how the contestants handle quick decisions with little information to base it on, under pressure from not only the decisions to make but also the tv-coverage. How they seek advise from their staff, if they can keep the head cool and think rationally all the way etc etc.

Much more interesting information that how well a contestant handle a telepromted speech, IMHO (though charisma and speaking skills obviously is a good thing in a President).

To make it easy to compare the two candidates, they would get the exact same crisis to solve, maybe even at the same time. But I know it would be difficult to run the simulation in a way that would be 100 % fair (it would in many cases be coincidences that decide if a decision safes a city or kill everyone there). Hence the focus must be on the proces, not the result of the simulation (how many deads etc.)

A Jack Bauer version of a candidate debate!

How do you like the idea?
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
I take board signs in great consideration. This year I voted for president REMAX. He is very prolific but clearly overlooked by the polls.
Nov 4, 2008
The waving of signs is easily explained once you consider race. The ambition required to stand for hours, !$%*!$%*! unshowered, uncombed is truly a direct result of racism. Why that is not obvious to everyone is odd to me.
Nov 4, 2008
Don't worry, Scott I don't think that the candidates expect it to work. They just know that there is a market for them, because people want to broadcast their views. The campaigns are only in it for the money though, they sell those things to the people who are (insert pejorative adjective) enough to buy them. It is entirely rational behavior on their part.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
The best election statistic I've seen lately is from USA Today.

This year we will spend $5.3 billion electing our president and the congress. By comparison, we will spend $6 billion on Halloween.

Does this help support your "people are dumb" thesis?
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
Scott, how do you feel about celebrity endorsements? And what about celebrities that aren't even American citizens working on call centers?


+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
I've managed a few election campaigns at local levels and the worst thing you can do is not have enough signs up. Not because they convey some kind of momentum, but because it keeps your core voters off your backs. i.e. daily phone calls and HQ visits from the many folks who want you to know that... "I've supported this party all my life so where the hell are all your signs? Are you so overconfident you don't think you even need to campaign? What arrogance! I need to speak with the candidate right now to tell him what a crappy job you're both doing."

It's easier just to get a bunch of signs up than to deal with those people day in and day out.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
Signs aren't all that useful for a Presidential election. Everyone knows who the two candidates are, and what the issues are, and if they've got any brain cells, they know how they're going to vote.

Lower-ticket candidates benefit hugely, though. For local and state politics, more likely than not the person who gets elected is the person with more name recognition. If there are enough signs to get the name "Wally Weasel" in peoples' heads, he'll be elected County Coroner over Dilbert Nobody, even if Dilbert Nobody is a forensic scientist with both a Ph.D and a MD while Wally Weasel can't tie his own shoes.

And issue-based things--like Prop. 8 in California--are so often worded too confusingly for people to figure out, so they might be swayed by "Yes/No on..." signs despite not knowing what a 'yes' or 'no' means.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
Scott, I gotta disagree about the signs. Signs matter. They repeat the message, increase the likelihood that some few voters will recognize the name of *your* candidate.

While the guy waving the sign on your corner may not be visually appealing, over time his energy and persistence will strike a chord of response in some few voters - gaining attention to his cause. And I suspect he does it not as much to improve his candidates chances of winning, but because he finds this way of expressing his own conviction to be .. necessary to himself.

We post 'my kid is an honor student' bumper stickers to raise parent's awareness of how kids get to be on the honor roll - complete homework, study, etc. We see beer ads all over so the drunken sots remember the allure of sex that brought them there in the first place. Classrooms post new spelling words to keep the visual centers of the brain refreshing the input, so it 'takes'. We write "I will not chew gum in class" 50 times to entertain the teacher, because we already know how to spell "gum".

Seeing candidate signs up and down the street makes a visual impression that there are people that think the candidate would make a good choice. The more signs, the more chance you will recognize the name at the polls.

Obama has a lot of campaign funding from concealed and questionable sources, beefing up the amount he has reputedly raised, and increasing the appearance of having more people support him. So he has bought more ads, more signs, more repetitions of his name. It has worked for him so far, with his message about ripping industries apart, throwing people out of work to save his tree-hugger buddies, and vindictively doubling and redoubling utility bills. Not that I have a strong preference.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
I live in Canada. The other day, I noticed that a house on my street has an "Obama/Biden 08" sign on its front lawn. Given that 99% of Canadians are ineligible to vote in a U.S. election, I couldn't help but wonder what was the point.

Incidentally, our polls up here tell me that, should you folks fail to elect Obama, the majority of Canadians would apparently be happy to bring him up here and make him our Prime Minister.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
I can ignore the signs easily enough. The phone calls are getting on my nerves.
Nov 4, 2008
You're way over analyzing this. People are herd animals, and they want to be with the biggest herd. Obviously, the guy with more signs is leading the bigger herd.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
"If you are a registered voter in the United States, today you must choose between the Antichrist and the only guy that scares the piss out of the Antichrist."

Yeah, but which one's which? Or does that depend on your point of view?
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 4, 2008
We have a yard sign for the underdog (Democrat in reddest state) candidate for state legislator. The neighbors have asked why and we told them. Then the state legislator knocked on our door to talk about it and we had what felt like a worthwhile discussion.

Tip O'Neil said "All politics is local," and I believe it. That sign zip tied to our mail box post (now you know how rural we are) opened a door of community conversation and representative governance. The last poll had the democrat slightly ahead and we're the reddest county in a state that's voted Republican since Eisenhower.

I don't know who will win, but I do know that the issues are in play. Little rudders steer large ships.

Or I'm self deluded. Of course I don't think I am.

Check out the "purple america" map at http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2004/
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