Staring at the ballot this past primary election had me asking one question: “Who the heck are these people?”
Don’t blame me. The information we had to make decisions in the primaries was somewhat scarce. There were no debates, no television ads nor any photo ops or speeches aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. At least there were none in my hometown of West Bloomfied, Mich.
So when I got into the booth, I literally had no clue as to whom the contenders were on the ballot. I stared at the names hoping for a revelation. After drawing a blank, I spent five minutes or so rearranging the letters in their last names, trying to spell a high-point Scrabble word.
That’s not to say the actual names were unrecognizable. Our neighborhood landscape had been dotted with the candidate’s political signs for weeks.
As I drove by, the names jumped out: BROWN; FARBER; HOUSEY; JACKSON; ROSENBERG; WARSHAY.
But what insights can be garnered from signs alone?
I guess certain assumptions may be based on font style. Certainly nothing scientific, but I wouldn’t vote for anyone who uses Baskerville Bold Italic – too out of the mainstream. Likewise for Futura Condensed – too constrictive of a thinker. And anyone using Avant Guard Gothic Book Oblique, well don’t get me started, obviously a pretentious square.
The color of the sign can also enlighten us about a candidate. I know I’ve read somewhere that red reflects a “Get It Done” personality. They’re hard working, dependable and decisive.
Yellow, if I recall, is for deep thinkers with strong leadership qualities. Or is that blue? I don’t remember. But I know colors mean something. Maybe I shouldn’t rely on my hazy recollection of color to determine elected officials.
That leaves the size of the sign. Most of the signs had uniform dimensions, approximately 24″ x 18.” Within that range there were variances. Candidates with tighter budgets opted for 24″ x 9.” Entrants with bigger budgets, like ones who could afford robocalls, went with the slightly larger 36″ x 24″ size.
Then, there’s always one candidate with the super-sized ego who displays a sign that dwarfs all others. That candidate in our district was Brad “Bubba” Urdan, a Republican running for State Representative.
Bubba’s sign towered above the other candidates by at least 30 feet. Well, at least it appeared that way through my windshield.
In reality, the sign was composed of five individual letters that made up his name. Each letter was approximately five feet tall. The letters were strategically placed on a grassy knoll in a high traffic location. If Bubba were campaigning in Los Angeles, I’m sure his sign would have been on Mount Lee next to “HOLLYWOOD.”
The enormous “BUBBA” sign certainly did grab my attention, but it left me no more informed about the candidate than the adjoining puny signs. It was still just a name, albeit a very large name.
So, did Bubba’s size strategy work?
No. Bubba took only 14% of the vote.
The winner, with 22% of the vote, was Klint Kesto. Ironically, his small, meager sign, sat on the hill in the shadows of the giant “BUBBA” sign.
Future political candidates take heed. As the next round of elections approach, you may want to put your hard earned Super Pac funds toward something other than gigantic campaign signage. What that “something” may be, I do not know.
But, I can say with some certainty, that regarding signs, “size doesn’t matter.”
Just ask Bubba.