About a month back I wrote a post called What's The Value of a Political Lawn Sign where I looked at the local town committee race between Republican Jim Harmon and Independent turned Democrat Kevin Nedd. Basically, Kevin made a no political sign pledge and Harmon did not. Well the results are in and Jim Harmon won. So what does that tell us about the value of political lawn signs? Well it turns out there were probably other factors at work, but I wouldn't run a race without them especially the ones that go on supporter's properties.
As you can see from this chart Harmon received 5,413 votes and Nedd received 3,203 votes. That turns out to be the second most votes for any Democrat candidate on the slate. Greenberg for Freeholder had the least amount of votes which probably represent the base support of WT Democrats and Democrat voting Independents. Nedd didn't get as many cross-over Republicans and Independents as Obama, so what happened?
When Nedd flips over to be a Democrat the way for him to win was straightforward but difficult. He would get probably like 99% of Democrats, but would have to pull about 20% of Republicans and then split the Independents. Given that he was also the Morris County Chair for Obama he would live or die by Obama's coattails.
There were Obama signs in town but no Nedd signs. Both Nedd and Harmon dropped mail (an ABSOLUTE WASTE OF MARKETING DOLLARS) and both made robo calls. Nedd probably got slightly more earned media but definitely not enough. There were three campaign related sites in town.
- Jim Harmon Alexa Rating = 3,745,622 (1,467 hits)
- ReelectNedd Alexa Rating = 3,343,600 (1,643 estimated hits)
- KevinNeddSaid Alexa Rating = 6,205,655 (885 estimated hits)
I don't know the actual traffic ratings but the Harmon site has a traffic counter and if we use his site counter to Alexa rating ratio we can estimate the other sites visitors (next to Alexa). None of these numbers are impressive and show a lack of community interest. To put it in perspective, my own failed BofE campaign generated almost 3,500 visits in less than one month. The Harmon and Nedd sites were up for months.
Based on the data above, I can only conclude that:
- Political Lawn sign are important especially with the way Jim Harmon used them which was on supporter lawns only
- Nedd didn't get enough earned media support from local papers to balance out the lack of marketing from the local signs
- You can drop all the wasteful direct mail that you want, but the majority of the town showed no interest in either candidate's websites or the attack site which had some press.
- While Nedd did well with the amount of votes he received, being associated with Obama hurt him a lot more in our town. Of course Nedd did help get Obama elected President.
There really aren't any other conclusions. For a local election it was very civil and didn't generate enough press for either candidate. With quiet campaigns and lack of visible support/interest except for the signs, people pretty much voted like the top of the ticket.