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Not All Lawn Signs Are Equal

Lawn signs are taking over Alberta's political scene this election season

As the UCP and NDP butt heads this election, there is one thing both parties can agree on. Lawn signs are popping up across the province in record numbers.

According to the UCP’s Director of Communications, Dave Prisco, the party has received tens of thousands of requests for lawn signs in the province.

“We are seeing more requests for signs on private property than in all of the 2019 campaign,” Prisco wrote to The Globe and Mail in an e-mail statement.

NDP spokesperson Malissa Dunphy claims the party has received requests for more than 50,000 locations. That’s a big increase. The NDP only had 45,000 requests in 2019…for its entire election campaign.

So why are lawn signs so popular this year?

NDP supporters holding signs outside of the campaign office | Alberta NDP Instagram

“There are more signs now than there used to be, and the reason for that is because we’re inundated with other ads,” explained Duane Bratt, a Political Science Professor at Mount Royal University.

If you use a blade often enough, it will eventually dull. The same is true for campaign ads. The more we see of them, the less oomph they have.

“There’s an idea that a really good ad…can influence voters, but we found that political ads have consistently small persuasive effects across a range of characteristics,” said Yale Political Scientist Alexander Coppock.

That’s not to say political advertisements are useless. Parties wouldn’t spend money on them if they were. However, if you want to predict the outcome of an election, lawn signs are your best bet.

“Putting an ad out on YouTube or television or radio tells you how much money a party has. When they convince someone to put a sign on their lawn, that’s a real person,” continued Bratt.

Bratt believes some political signs are more important than others. Anyone can put up a sign in a public space, but signs on private property, like lawn signs, show support from real people.

“You’ve actually got a homeowner willing to put a sign on their lawn to demonstrate or support for a particular party, and that’s why it matters,” said Bratt.

If you drove through a neighbourhood and saw a wave of blue lawn signs, would this influence your vote? With the election in full swing, only time will tell.

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