Sign of the Times? Fewer Political Candidate Yard Signs in Twin Cities
We can usually tell it's election season in Minnesota just by looking at our neighbors' front lawns--and their yard signs. But this year, some observers say the signs professing our preferred candidates are few and far between.
According to John Rash, a media and culture analyst, "Some people in these highly polarized times do not want to wear their political affiliations on their sleeves or on their lawns in front of their neighbors." He says there's also a sense that both President Obama and Mitt Romney have failed to enthuse the electorate. "People are not really passionate about either candidate, as opposed to what we've seen in previous elections, particularly in 2008 when President Obama first ran."
Of course, then there's Richard Sunderlin of Richfield. "You have to stand for something," he said Wednesday, on a trek to fetch yard signs. Sunderlin was leaving the St. Paul offices of Minnesotans United for all Families with an orange sign saying "Vote No" (on the proposed state ban on gay marriage amendment) In the trunk of his car there were more signs supporting causes (one opposing new voter ID requirements) and candidates (one in support of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar). He said they will soon adorn his front yard.
"Showing our neighbors how we feel does make a difference," Sunderlin said. "How much of a difference, I really don't know."
Perhaps indifference is actually what's happening; a drive though most Twin Cities neighborhoods reveals plenty of manicured lawns, but very few campaign signs.
According to Jeff Blodgett, the state director for the Minnesota campaign to re-elect President Obama, "We don't really make a big deal about law signs." Blodgett says in the age of social media, lawn signs can seem a little passe. "Some of that has moved on-line where you have tens of thousands of people who essentially put up a digital lawn sign on their Facebook page or their Twitter account," he said.
(The Minnesota Romney campaign didn't respond to a 5 Eyewitness News interview request.)
Jake Loesch, the deputy communications director for Minnesotans for all Families, says yard signs have been key to the organization's momentum. It's distrubuted more than 25,000 so far. "I mean people are driving around the state of Minnesota every day, and every day they see more and more 'vote no' signs," he said. "That may be what triggers a person to think twice about this."
Those on the other side of the gay marriage issue have taken notice. "We at Minnesota for Marriage have released 15,000 signs in one week alone," said spokesperson Autumn Leva, "They're out the door, they're gone." The new push began Labor Day weekend.
Of course, cost could be an issue at work as well. The signs aren't cheap to make. Pretty much every group offering up yard signs asks for a $10 donation.
Another sign, of the times.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org