I spent the weekend in what would be considered small-town America: Lakeland, Florida. On the way there and back again I passed through rural areas, small towns, and a lot of open country, much of it agricultural (citrus and sugar cane). I also saw a number of political signs for the upcoming election. Most of them were for local races, and of course a number of them for the statewide and national tickets as well.
As you’d expect, I saw more Trump signs than those for Hillary Clinton, and at the auto show this weekend there were folks handing out Trump stickers and yard signs. That’s to be expected at any public event during the election season. And, no, I didn’t see anyone handing out Hillary Clinton signs. I saw a number of my fellow exhibitors wearing little Trump stickers. I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was at a car show, not a political rally, and besides, my car has Ontario plates so I’m pretty sure they passed me by for that reason.
Are yard signs indicative of a candidate’s chances? Does having more of them out there mean they’re going to win? Probably not. I mean, I doubt that someone’s mind has been changed by seeing that someone else has a yard sign for a particular candidate. (And if it did, I would be worried about that person’s ability to decide on a candidate.) What it means is that the voter on that property is willing to state publicly who they are for. But it doesn’t mean that their vote counts more than the person next door who doesn’t put out a yard sign.
Stephen Hiltner at the New York Times took a motorcycle trip across rural America and saw lots of Trump signs. By that he concludes that the support for Mr. Trump in rural America is overwhelming.
Yes, it is. But as Steve M notes, that doesn’t add up to a lot of votes.
Tiny, blue Massachusetts has eleven times as many people as massive, red Wyoming. (Do we want to break it to Hiltner that blue states such as New York, California, Illinois, and Michigan are even more full of voters than Massachusetts?)
I also think Steve M has a good point as to why Mr. Hiltner didn’t see a lot of Clinton signs in rural areas: fear. Trump supporters heretofore have not demonstrated an interest in civil discourse in discussing the differences between the two candidates, what with Mr. Trump exhorting his followers to “knock the crap out of them,” meaning protestors. Ironically, that might provide even more incentive for the reluctant sign-poster to get to the polls to prevent that kind of mindset to take over the country.