Political signs impact voters in local elections - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Political signs impact voters in local elections


by Jamie Grey

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Call it a sign of the times, you've, no doubt, seen the political yard signs popping up all over eastern Iowa. You probably drive by signs like these everyday without thinking too much about it, but experts say you might be paying more attention than you think.

Virtually every party and every candidate, national or local, has a sign in someone's yard. Experts say signs play a big role in local elections where people are likely to vote for a familiar name, even without knowing much about the candidate.

"In Iowa, on the back of the ballot, there are a list of positions for judges and local positions, and I think people are hesitant to look over that list and not vote for somebody, but they also don't have time to do research on everybody," Doctor Lynne Niznik, history and political science department chair at Clarke College, said.

On the other hand, in the presidential election, experts say people are likely to know more about a candidate and vote on issues. For any sign, design is key.

"Really, you can't stop and read the sign, so people are hoping for the recognition of either the symbol or making the name very large. You have to be able to get the driver's attention very quickly," Dr. Niznik said.

Signs on Time in Dubuque has made local political signs for 14 years. The motto: The bigger the better.

"Lots of blue and red. For sure, those two colors. Nice blocking letter styles. They're easy to read. The bigger you can get them the better," owner Chad Carlson said.

With any of the signs big or small, glossy or homemade, experts say they're most likely to work on one big group: the undecided.

Sign shop owners we talked to say they've made and sold less signs this year than in years past. They say it could be because budgets are tight for everyone -- including local political budgets.

To date, Republican party officials say they've given out around 50,000 McCain signs in Iowa. Democrat party officials don't have an exact number, but say Obama signs are also in the tens of thousands range.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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