Mulling The Signs Of Our Times

LA MESA -- Political lawn signs have a long history and it is certain that no persuasive argument will make them go away.

Some political scientist once said that each yard sign is worth 6 to 10 votes for a candidate and that probably has kept the obligation going far longer than the digital age should allow.

If six to 10 people are persuaded by a sign with a name on it in determining whom they will hand the keys to the White House or City Hall, then they should be called lazy voter signs.

Political candidates are often so wedded to the perceived, time-honored tactics, that I can't help thinking the most effective campaigns are playing out quietly in cyberspace, through e-mails and videos exchanged by candidates and their supporters. It is true that Obama's victory in 2008 was heavily dependent on the millions of micro-donors who aided him with a few key strokes.

Or maybe, after centuries, lawn signs have become a natural phenomenon. They do tend to mate and multiply.

It is far more common to see a corner -- like Fletcher and Baltimore above -- than the lone sentinel standing vigil across from Lemon Avenue Elementary School (see picture below).

At least Jay Steiger is a school candidate. He should get credit for attempting to garner name recognition from people likely to care who guides their school district. Yet if a sign is enough to guide their vote, does a self-respecting candidate want it? (Don't answer that.)

Bill Baber, Steiger's opponent, has sworn off lawn signs and favors Internet advertising and emails. "Signs originated in politics to communicate to people who gather in public spaces - today those public spaces are on the internet."

Of course a lawn sign actually on a lawn can suggest the inhabitant of the home knows the candidate and supports the candidate. Neighbors may know the person displaying the sign and decide whether or not that helps or hurts the candidates' chances. Relying on your supporters' popularity to influence your own support as a candidate is, to a degree, better than plastering your name on every vacant property in town and hoping people think that reflects a groundswell of local support.

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Tags: Chris Lavin, Government, Jay Steiger, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, La Mesa politics, Obama, On La Mesa


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Comment by Jay Steiger on November 5, 2012 at 11:04pm

I found the "lone sentinel" description very humorous and I am very pleased that during this years campaign the overwhelming majority of my signs have been put up in the yards of my supporters around the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District community.

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