I was in Jefferson County, Washington for a bit last month and political yard signs looked to be a genuine cash crop from their numbers. I've never seen so many and I found the sight rather odd, considering that Jefferson has a population of less than 26,000 badly scattered over a rather large chunk of real estate. Another thing which I found odd is that the signs were for candidates for local office. The biggest advertisers seemed to be contenders for the offices of prosecuting attorney and sheriff. There were a few Cantwell signs up and quite a few McGavick signs but those were the only names I recognized.
It really took longer than it should have for the advertising component of my marketing training to kick in - the lawn signs leaned heavily toward Bierbaum (the challenger), while Dalzell (the incumbent) seemed content to rely upon her incumbency to carry the day. Birnbaum spent the little that she had available on the most effective method of gaining name recognition that she could afford. It almost carried the day as she received 48.6% of the vote yesterday. Almost.
Thinking about those signs led me to pay a bit more attention to signage on the fourteen hour drive back down to the Bay Area. More than fifty years of exposure to signage in all its humdrum diversity has numbed its ability to make much of an impact upon me and I found that paying attention to signs wasn't really a worthwhile endeavor. Except for the gas price signs, of course. They were telling a cheering story for they foretold a trip home which would cost less than the trip up. That in itself is an indication that I am no model for the economist's "rational man" because the total 'savings' involved in that 14 hour drive (the equivalent of three weeks worth of commuting, according to the census bureau) was less than $5. Apparently some practitioners of the social sciences are very upset with the irrationality shown by people like me who cheer up at very modest signs of improvement in our economic well being. What rational being would reward the President for an occurrence over which he exercised no authority or control? Perhaps those practitioners need to sit down and chat with some people within the Mediacracy and explain the irrationality of the Mediacrats conspiracy theories - perhaps with crayons and butcher paper stick figure drawings, so that the attention of the typical Mediocrat might be held long enough for the concept of a disjunct between correlation and causation to take hold.
Returning to yard signs and the effectiveness of advertising in relationship to incumbency, Brown's lead over DeWine in Ohio has disappeared. The RNC has put about $1.5M into advertising in Ohio since the 1st of September and they're getting their money's worth. In the House races, the Republicans are on offense in only four districts, GA-08, IA-03, IL-08 and VT so far. The Republican's national groups have pumped a total of $716K into those districts since September 1st and the Democrat's national groups have replied by spending $0. Extraordinary confidence or lack of resources? I'll put up a hypothesis within a few days in a Shifting Sands piece.
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