Campaigns/Elections

One Last Sign Wave for Ron Paul Supporters in Boston

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Boston – On Super Tuesday Eve about two dozen Ron Paul supporters are spread out across Dewey Square outside South Station in Boston holding a variety of Ron Paul signs and handing out pamphlets to commuters as they hurry to catch their train back to suburbia. Some of the activists engage commuters with Paul literature but most just hold their signs and encourage them to vote for Paul in the primary tomorrow.

This is the final organized Paul campaign event in Massachusetts before Super Tuesday. No phone calls, no canvassing: just holding signs outside of South Station so commuters can read them on their way home.

Joe Ureneck, a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, said that his group made calls and did some door knocking but that the Dewey Square event helped too. "It's traditional Boston politicking, it's just another part of campaigning," said Ureneck, 60, of Dorchester.  

Sign waving and "sign bombing" are deeply woven into the culture of the Ron Paul movement, in a way that is very different from the campaigns of the remaining Republican candidates. Go to any place in the country that has a Ron Paul MeetUp Group and you are all but guaranteed to find an event listing for a sign wave at some prominent local intersection. It is a tactic that is popular with local campaigns for offices like selectman or school committee, where name recognition is a major issue. It's considered unusual by many for a presidential campaign.

"They have minimal effect on raising the name identification of a particular candidate but Ron Paul's name does not need to be raised anymore among GOP primary voters. They all know who he is. Their focus should not be on name identification because it's probably already 100 percent," said longtime Massachusetts political strategist Rob Willington, a former executive director of the Mass GOP.

Willington was the chief architect of Scott Brown's successful internet campaign in the 2010 special election to fill Ted Kennedy vacant US Senate seat.

"Yard signs are, mostly, a complete waste of time," said Willington.

Another local political consultant, Lenny Alcivar, agreed.

"Yard signs and bumper stickers and signage are more important to volunteers and supporters than to the campaign itself. They are a measure of a campaign's footprint but for the most part they matter more as bragging rights neighbor-to-neighbor than they do in getting votes," said Alcivar.

Another potential problem with the signs used by the Paul supporters is that there are so many different kinds available. Unlike traditional supporters Paul backers have designed a plethora of signs and stickers for other supporters to use, often at their own expense. This has the potential to create a confusing message that may not reflect what the official campaign is trying to do.

"I don't think you can manufacture victory or massive public appeal by putting your resources into those kinds of actions and rallies," said Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute at Stonehill College.

At the main entrance of South Station End the Fed Activist and Paul supporter Eric Bickford, 23, was busy handing out flyers to commuters as they were entering. He was not holding a sign but said that he thinks people like that part of campaigning because it is a way for them to feel like they are involved in the campaign.

"It's easy to do. You just stand out and hold a sign. Get people to honk for you, it builds morale. If we want to get votes we need to get out there and door knock and actually talk to people, get face-to-face, door knock," said Bickford, the union carpetner and West Roxbury native. 

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  20. In Illinois we have a group that does sign waving on Michigan Ave. every week. Meanwhile, my group in the west burbs knocked on 400 doors and talked to 60 undecided voters. Some volunteers are taking it to the streets.

  21. Yard signs might be less effective in some areas but in rural areas they are more effective.

    1. “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign” 🙂

  22. Paul literature but most just hold their signs and encourage them to vote for Paul in the primary tomorrow.

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  24. and this is why the paul campaign/supporters continues to fail. I wish it weren’t so. this stuff just reeks of the 2006 “campaign.” I saw some homemade signs on my drive to work yesterday in VA. I was thinking the same thing: a complete waste of time/effort. Time is better spent IDing voters and getting out the vote. I can’t remember where I read it – maybe here? – but someone said that Ron Paul isn’t really a candidate anymore, he’s a movement. Given the way the campaign is organizing (or not organizing), and given the Paul diehards, I gotta agree.

    1. Yeah, not working at all. That’s why Paul has roughly doubled his vote percentages in four years. Yeah, it isn’t quite enough for a win in even his strongest states (so far), but that is still significant.

      1. You assuming he didnt win Iowa or Maine or Washington?

        Unless you want to argue those havent taken place yet.

      2. right. it was the sign waves that made this happen.

  25. Voting in about 15 minutes on my way to work…

    RON PAUL 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Such a waste. These guys are dedicating their time, but then using it on something like this instead of GOTV stuff. I saw a guy holding a Ron Paul sign yesterday morning in the metrowest area on my way to work. I honked.

  27. Sign waving was a big thing with RP Meet Up groups in 2008. When RP gave it up in early 08, there was an effort to get all the Meet Up groups in my state to start worming their way into the regular GOP committeeman structure to be ready for 2012. Virtually no one was interested in doing real politics, so here we are in 2012 and just as weak as ever. It’s ironic that most RP supporters only feel comfortable sign waving, because when you drill down, you find they are far more knowledgible about their candidate than those who support the others. One on one door knocking should be far easier and productive because they can explain their candidate’s views. The other candidates’ supporters simply shove literature in the door. One I caught up to told me three Romney positions that were counter to what it said in the brochure she handed me!

  28. I do want to note that some people aren’t capable of speaking to strangers, some people just don’t have the effective charm needed for phonebanking and door-knocking…sign waves are a good way for them to contribute, while also building morale. As activists, especially Ron Paul activists, you need that boost every once in a while to keep going and moving for the cause. Having 100’s honk at you while you stand on a street corner is a good way to find that while also spreading the name.

    🙂

    That Eric Bickford has it right!

    1. +1 Seems like people on this site are going into Shit-on-Ron-Paul mode.

  29. look at NH…
    we did :
    got involved with local GOP
    did LOTS of GOTV
    sign waved.

    Eric B FTW!

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