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A Short History of Political Signs

Campaign signs and posters are omnipresent fixtures of the political landscape, utilized by candidates across all levels of government. From gracing lawns and windows to adorning walls nationwide, these visual aids serve a multitude of purposes:


  • They allow voters to proudly exhibit their support for a specific candidate.

  • A proliferation of signs can ignite enthusiasm and momentum for a particular campaign.

  • Strategically placed signs in bustling areas aid lesser-known candidates in gaining visibility and recognition.

  • Distributing signs helps to keep the election at the forefront of voters' minds, reinforcing the candidate's message and agenda.



For candidates, the objective of campaign signs is to convert soft support into votes. Research conducted by political scientists suggests that the presence of political yard signs can potentially sway up to 10 additional votes for the candidate in areas abundant with signage.


In ancient times, political messaging through graffiti was common in Ancient Rome, with over 1,500 instances found at Pompeii. Candidates hired professionals to write slogans supporting them or urging citizens to vote.



The tradition of campaign signs in US politics dates back to John Quincy Adams’s presidential campaign. Early posters featured candidate portraits or detailed platform descriptions. Initially costly, these artworks were etched onto wood or metal blocks. As printing technology advanced, signs became more affordable and started to include candidate photographs.



Contemporary campaign signs, especially those for yards, are usually screen-printed on small, corrugated plastic surfaces. As a result, they are usually simple in design, with a few bright colors, a prominent presentation of the candidate's name and/or picture, potentially the position they are running for, and a concise slogan or campaign website.

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