Sunday, October 24, 2004

The One-day Sale 

A well-known political pollster used to say campaigns are a one-day sale. Everything one works for comes down to less than 24 hours in which people enter a booth and make a choice.

The length and bitterness of the presidential campaign is a cause for wonder in that regard. There is no doubt where I live, for example, that many people dislike the president and support challenger John Kerry. How do I know this? From signs on lawns and stickers on cars. These outnumber the Bush-Cheney signs by a huge amount. In fact, I have yet to enter a community in my New Jersey travels where the reverse is true.

Lawn signs are a public relations tactic with extra force. One has to commit to allow a sign to be posted on a lawn and to keep it there. The voter has made up his or her mind and wants others to go along with the choice. Nieghbors know these people and their word of mouth is public for all to witrness. That, it seems to me, has more force than a billboard or an ad on TV that has been bought and paid for.

In a close election like this one, lawn signs have a force they might not have at other times. A voter can see his or her neighbors' selection and are tempted to go along. I don't pay attention to lawn signs most of the time, but this year is different. They have become clues to which way this deeply divided election will go. My guess is New Jersey will be solidly Kerry. I won't place a bet.


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