Study Casts Doubt on Effectiveness of Political Lawn Signs

political yard signs

During election season, you’ll spot them all over the place — lawn signs promoting a political candidate or cause. But lawn signs aren’t a “silver bullet” for election victory.

That’s one of the key conclusions drawn by Brandon Lenoir, a professor of political science and political communication at High Point University in North Carolina, based on a study he co-authored about the effectiveness of political lawn signs.

“Millions of dollars are spent each election cycle on political lawn signs,” Lenoir says. “We wanted to test the belief held by many old-time precinct captains that more lawn signs equals more votes. Our findings indicate lawn signs will not win elections on their own.”

‘Waste of Time’

The study backs up the collective opinion of many political consultants that lawn signs don’t pay off. In 2014, consultant David Mowery wrote that these signs are “a complete waste of time.”

Political consultant Mario Piscatella agrees with Mowery.

“Yard signs don’t vote. They become a part of the landscape after a relatively short period of time, and typically have a very limited viewership anyway,” Piscatella wrote in 2010.

political yard signs

Photo: Flickr/Zhu

In the study co-authored by Lenoir, researchers planted a total of 376 lawn signs for four campaigns: a congressional race, a gubernatorial race and two county commission races. The signs were put up in randomly selected polling precincts in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Election results gathered during the four races, which took place over the course of 2½ years, suggest the signs had little effect unless a race was really tight.

“If more than a couple percentage points separate the two candidates, lawn signs will have no effect on the outcome of the election,” Lenoir says.

To check out LawnStarter’s six favorite presidential yard signs of 2016, visit

Top photo: Flickr/Tim Evanson


John Egan

John Egan is the former editor in chief of Now, he is a freelance writer extraordinaire. He lives in Austin, Texas.