Here is a secret: If you want to predict a general election, count the number of Republican yard signs in “purple” neighborhoods.
Take a drive through an upper-middle class community in a swing state. Find the subdivision where there’s a coffee shop on the corner and an organic grocery store not too far away, ideally where the Priuses outnumber the SUV’s… but not by much. Find the block where the adults are academics, professionals, or government employees and where every household has a couple of kids in the public schools. The voter breakdown in the ideal “purple” neighborhood is about a third Republican, a third Democrat, and a third independent.
Now count the Republican yard signs. Signs are not polling data, and they are certainly not election returns, but a yard sign is a definitive measure of three things: Support (obviously); intensity; and – most importantly — a voter’s willingness to make his political opinions known to his neighbors. A yard sign — especially in a “hostile” environment — is a symbol of political courage, a sign of an impending shift in public opinion.
The early returns are in. Read the whole thing.