Saturday, September 4, 2010

Political Tourism

I took a little day trip with my kids today to go visit my dad. Once I got off the freeway in the Appleton area, I noticed something a little odd. While there was an abundance of political yard signs, a vast majority (10:1 at least) of them where for local (Congressional or lower) candidates. I figured that it was a geographical oddity so on the way home I took the scenic route through Oshkosh, Fond Du Lac, and the smaller towns of EC Wisconsin. The same thing held true all the way back.

What I saw both encouraged and discouraged me. While I know that yard signs are not anywhere close to gauging voter turnout, the vast number of signs in some areas showed at least more than a passing interest in the upcoming elections. The vast amount of Congressional and state assembly signs also was a good sign. Usually, the off year elections are ignored because there is no big, national election. The fact that a lot of people are paying attention to elections on the state and local level is great. However, the distinct lack of signs for statewide races (governor and Senator), even in the yards of those folks that had a lot of other signs, was a bit discouraging. Granted, a large chunk of my trip was through the WI-6th which, from my experience, is a bit of a ho-hum district when it comes to voter turnout. Still, it seems like people are concentrating on smaller races.

Another encouraging sight was the amount of Scott Walker signs. Yes, there were very few gubernatorial race signs, but the fact that there were Walker signs outside of the Milwaukee area was good to see. There also were a roughly equal amount of Mark Neumann signs. That should be good news for the Neumann campaign. Perhaps the Republican primary will be a bit closer than the current polls suggest. Again, yard signs are not scientific, but the lone Tom Barrett sign showed me that he may not be playing as well outstate as he hoped.

Another oddity was that I saw a few signs for Lt. Governor. I was not expecting those at all, even leading up to the general election. Every sign was for Brett Davis too. While he's not my candidate (I'm voting for Rebecca Kleefisch), it is encouraging to see that of the people that are choosing to put signs out for Lt. Governor, it's the Republican candidate.

Now that I think about it, I cannot recall seeing one Russ Feingold sign. There were quite a few Ron Johnson signs, but I kind of wrote that off as I was travelling through the Oshkosh area. But to not see one Feingold sign was a bit, well, shocking. He is well known and his TV commercials are all over the Green Bay TV market.

So what does that all mean? Honestly, very little when it comes to the general election. However, nowadays when people are hesitant to place a pink flamingo on their lawn for fear of what the neighbors might think or the risk that they will lower their property taxes, seeing people bucking the trends and not going with the incumbent could spell trouble.

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