Spring cleaning starts with recycling the political signs

The election’s over — time to toss the remains of the campaigns

It’s spring-cleaning time.

That means the usual spiffing up  — closets, basement, windows and so on. But every four years, it also means pitching all that political stuff you’ve collected for the last few months.

Look around your place. How many political mail pieces did you throw on a table with the intention of throwing it away weeks ago? And how about those annoying things they put on your door when they knock and you aren’t home?

Then there are the yard signs. One study found that the number of yard signs has quadrupled since 1984. And before you begin to think that it is just a symptom of too much money in politics fueling the “yard sign industrial complex,” I would point you to another study that winning the yard-sign war could mean close to a two percentage point advantage on election day. This may not sound like a lot, but it can make the difference between winning and losing.

The ironic thing is that, even though they do matter, most campaign staffers hate yard signs. They have long believed that “signs don’t vote” and are annoyed by supporters complaining that they haven’t received their yard signs or need a replacement immediately for one that is damaged.

It is true that yard signs don’t vote, but they do serve a more personal role for the person who has them. We live in a highly polarized age. Stabbing your political allegiance into the ground has become nearly as important as impressing the neighbors with a manicured lawn.

It is a central point of identification. More people want to wear their political brand proudly. If you don’t believe me, then recall all those huge Trump signs around the state at primary time.

While cities and towns have laws against keeping political signs up on public property after a certain date, this does not apply to your privately owned yard. With 10 major candidates who ran in the New Hampshire primary, the chances are that your candidate didn’t win. Sorry about that. Now dump the sign.

But this is 2016, and the truth is that the real spring cleaning for political junk is in your e-mail inbox.

How these campaigns got your e-mail in the first place, we’ll never know. You probably never hit the unsubscribe button, no matter how many times you intended to. So now is the time to scrub the e-mail inbox.

After all, there are eight months to go until the general election and hundreds of more campaign e-mails will be coming your way.

Categories: Features