Telling Signs in New Hampshire

Yard signs, that is.  The sheer number of Republican yard signs in New Hampshire is staggering.

(For those of you scoring at home, there are more Romney signs in New Hampshire right now than all of the other candidates combined.  After Romney there’s a growing crop of Huntsman signs, plenty of Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich signs and a smattering of Santorum signs.  I didn’t see a single Perry or Bachmann sign.)

But the signs are everywhere, and not just on empty lots and medians.  They’re on front lawns and in the windows of businesses.  They’re in every neighborhood and in front of every type of house.

Barack Obama is in big trouble.

I know, I know: It’s a Republican primary.  And, of course, “yard signs don’t vote.”

But signs on front yards are a very public expression of political opinion.  A yard sign is an extremely accurately measure of that single voter’s comfort level with a candidate or a party.

And people in the swing state of New Hampshire are very comfortable letting their neighbors know that they’re voting Republican this year.

My how things have changed.  My postmortem on the 2006 election was titled “Cocktail Parties and Yard Signs.”  The thesis was simple: When Republicans don’t put Republican signs in their yards, it shows an unwillingness to embrace their nominees.  They might vote Republican in the privacy of the voting booth, but they’re almost embarrassed by their own political opinions and unwilling to proclaim them to their neighbors.  (The “cocktail parties” part refers to the tendency to disavow Republican nominees in “polite company” – the “I’m registered Republican, but I vote for the person not the party” fallback.  It’s essentially the same as the yard sign phenomenon.)

This “shying away from the nominee” is mostly evident in suburbs, exurbs, small cities and swing “purple” states.  (My 2006 postmortem focused on the vote in Fort Collins, Colorado, perhaps the purplest city in the purplest state in the country.)    If you live in a deeply-red state surrounded by fellow conservatives, it’s hard to fully describe the political climate in an average “purple” neighborhood.  Try to imagine having your neighbors approach (accost) you at the grocery store to tell you what’s wrong with your political positions.  Imagine them bringing your kids into the conversation.  There’s no separation between the personal and the political on the left, and a sign in your yard marks you as a target.

We all experienced this in 2008.  If you just followed the media, Facebook posts from long-lost friends and, yes, the yard signs, you would never have guessed that someone other than Barack Obama won 46% of the vote in 2008.  (His name was John McCain.)  In “polite company” in purple states (and on the “purple state” of Facebook) it was just assumed that you were with Obama.

So back to New Hampshire.

Some quick background: New Hampshire is a very purple state.  Twenty years ago it was one of the most Republican states in the country, but Bill Clinton (twice), Kerry and Obama all carried the state in general elections.  The Republicans lost the governorship in 1996, and the Democrats made relatively consistent gains over the following decade.  After the 2006 election, Democrats held both Congressional seats, the governorship, and both houses in the legislature (for the first time since 1911.)  The 2010 election saw the pendulum swing decisively back to the Republicans, but no one was sure if that would translate beyond 2010… and into the presidential race.

There are Republican signs up in the conservative large southern towns in New Hampshire.  There are signs up in Manchester.  There are Republican signs up in all of the places you’d expect.

But there are also signs up all over the capital city of Concord – a Democrat stronghold.  Concord isn’t “purple.”  It’s deep-blue town in a purple state.  The Republicans who live there personify the “I sometimes vote Republican, but…” mentality.

Concord is full of Romney, Huntsman, Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum signs.  They’re in every neighborhood.  They’re brazenly posted in shop windows.  There are more Republican signs in Concord, New Hampshire than I have ever seen.

Swing-state Republicans take note: 2012 will be different.

Barack Obama is in big trouble.

Comments

  1. SenatorMark4 says:

    If only signs could vote Republican. We all know that many expired DemocRats vote in every election and now with electronic voting machines and #Occupy/Anonymous we can expect deeply red precincts to surprisingly, unexpectedly vote blue. You’re so right. 2012 will be different in so many ways!

  2. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    I hope so, but we will know in a few months when we quit hearing all the bitching from the right.

    • seguin says:

      From the continued bitching from the left about Bush well into Obama’s term, I’d say that isn’t a reliable indicator.

  3. curt says:

    Humbug. We just had a local election here in Florida. The two incumbents’ easily won the “yard sign battle.” At the polls, they won 40 % and 26%, respectively.

  4. Rich Vail says:

    1st…INSTALANCHE!!!!!

    I live in deep blue ‘burbs of Maryland, called Pikesville. It’s as Jewish as you can get outside of Brooklyn, NY/Jerusalem, IS…and there are NO OBAMA SIGNS ANYWHERE. This area voted for Obama in 2008 by about 80%. There were bumper stickers and signs everywhere. 2011/12…only a few bumper stickers.

    Most of my neighbors are small business owners, and they’re freaking out over how FUBAR this administration has made the economy. No one is hiring, because of the excessive costs of hiring new employees. That’s not all the fault of the federal government, though they bare a huge portion of that burden…it comes from the over-regulatory attitude that Maryland has towards business.

    But I digress…you are correct, Obama is in big trouble. I seriously doubt the GOP candidate (G-d I hope not Romney) will carry Maryland, but…I suspect that Mr. Obama will be very lucky to take more than 43% of the vote nationally, and will only carry New England (+ NY) and the west coast (+ Illinois).

    • mac says:

      If we can’t get rid of this bastard and his brood currently infesting the WH after the disaster of the last four years, we might as well give up on the ballot box solution. I often ask people, “If Obama really hated America and wanted to destroy the country, what would he have done differently in the last four years than what he has done?”
      I’ve yet to receive an answer for that question other than pensive silence.

      I’d like to see a romping Republican victory followed by criminal prosecutions and jail time for Holder, Napolitano, Frank, Geithner, Gyamfi and a host of other left-wing crooks. I want to see the Republicans play real hardball with the lefties and give them back 110% of their own medicine. As for the left making the personal political, I’m all for giving that right back to them as well. I don’t do business with or hire Democrats and no longer have any liberal acquaintances. If I’m asked why, my response is that I still have the right of free association; I refuse to have any associations with socialist thieves who want to take my hard-earned money to give to someone they deem more worthy. It has been said that “conservatives think liberals are stupid; liberals think conservatives are evil.” Well, I now think the libs are damned evil as well and I’m ready to see them out accordingly.

  5. Buck O'Fama says:

    I live in NJ. The other day, I was walking out to get the mail and the neighbor’s lawn service guy was on his cell phone talking to someone. He was quite excited: “Didja hear? (NJ Gov) Christie might run with Romney!” Somebody besides me is anxious to be rid of King Putt.

  6. punditius says:

    “There’s no separation between the personal and the political on the left, and a sign in your yard marks you as a target.”

    Truer words were never spoken. Protect your car. Don’t put a Republican bumper sticker on it.

    • BWP says:

      I felt that way during ’08, but now? That Ron Paul sticker is there and the yard sign, too. Some progressive minded damage to my car will get a bigger sign to point out the damage and identify it as done by an Obama supporter. Probably with words to the effect that a vote for Obama is a vote for more damage to the USA!

  7. George B says:

    So true. Even here in deep red Plano, TX you rarely see Republican yard signs and I’d never risk my social contacts by posting links to Republican candidates or conservative websites. About as far as I’ll go is to link to a libertarian Reason article showing the absurd stupidity of some government program.

    In the last Presidential campaign it was difficult to get a McCain Palin yard sign here in North Texas. Local Congressman Pete Sessions raised some campaign cash for Dallas Republicans by selling yard signs for $5 each. Several friends bought signs just to balance out their neighbor’s Obama signs. Surprised more local campaigns don’t get into the sign selling business in other solidly Republican areas.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Telling Signs in New Hampshire.  Does the sheer, staggering volume of yards signs in New Hampshire bespeak trouble for Obama?  This blogger thinks so.  We can only hope This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. ← Review & Outlook: Ethanol in Winter – WSJ.com [...]

  2. [...] This report from New Hampshire is a telling sign….too bad most of them are Romney signs: The sheer number of Republican yard signs in New Hampshire is staggering. [...]

  3. [...] Yard signs mean nothing.  I found out the hard way.  Realize that many people without yard signs can and do vote.  And, [...]

  4. [...] have a full op-ed over at PJMedia.com today building on my “Telling Signs in New Hampshire” post from last week. Here is a secret: If you want to predict a general election, count the number [...]

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