Yard signs

Lawn signs can swing an election, study finds

All those political yard signs littering neighborhoods at election time may not be accomplishing that much, a new study found — though perhaps enough to swing a close election.

Four randomized field experiments in a study by lead author Donald Green of Columbia University and several others found that lawn signs increase voter share by 1.7 percentage points on average, a positive increase, but not a large one.

“It appears that signs typically have a modest effect on advertising candidates’ vote shares — an effect that is probably greater than zero but unlikely to be large enough to alter the outcome of a contest that would otherwise be decided by more than a few percentage points,” the researchers wrote.

Alex Coppock, one of the co-authors of the study, told POLITICO the effects they found were in persuading voters to choose a certain candidate, not on turnout.

“We were surprised by these findings, because the conventional wisdom is that lawn signs don’t do much — they’re supposed to be a waste of money and time. Many campaign consultants think that signs ‘preach to the choir’ and not much else,” Coppock said. More

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