Local Democrats, Republicans using different tactics to attract voters

October 29, 2003|HERB BROCK

If the outcome of Tuesday's gubernatorial election in Boyle County could be forecast based on yard signs, then Democrat candidate Ben Chandler would win by a mile.

The Chandler signs far outnumber the signs for Republican Ernie Fletcher, at least in and around Danville.

But while such a forecast would hearten Boyle County Judge-Executive Tony Wilder, chairman of the Boyle Democratic Party, he realizes that the number of yard signs is not necessarily relative to the number of votes.

"Yard signs don't vote," said Wilder. "I wish they could, in the case of this election, but they don't."

However, Wilder believes yard signs are an "important indicator" of the support for a candidate.

"Yard signs can be effective because they are in someone's yard," he said. "It's not like a large sign on road frontage or at an intersection or on a billboard. It's a personal statement.

"A person has taken the time to put a sign up in their yard and say they support a candidate. That's one person making a statement, and that's bound to have some effect on people who see the sign."


And the Chandler campaign is hoping that's the case, because it has made a large investment in yard signs and made them a big part of their effort to draw voters to the polls on Tuesday.

The Fletcher campaign has other get-out-the-vote weapons in its quiver as it and the Chandler campaign, and the campaigns of candidates for the other statewide offices, focus on mobilizing their respective troops down the stretch.

"It's obvious that the Chandler campaign is putting a lot of stock in yard signs, while the Fletcher campaign is focusing on other efforts to drum up support," said Tom McClain, Boyle County Republican party chairman.

"But if you recall the 2000 presidential election, there were a lot more Gore signs than Bush signs along Maple and Lexington avenues, where a lot of Centre (College) people, who tend toward liberal, and old-line Democrats live, and Bush still carried those precincts, though by close votes, and most of the rest of the county," he said.

Instead of yard signs, the Fletcher campaign is spending its money and time on television commercials, newspaper advertisements and "personal contact efforts," such as the phone calls featuring the taped voice of Fletcher's wife, the live voices of Republican volunteers, postcards, and home visits.

The Democrats also will be using the personal approach in the eleventh hour of the campaign, said Wilder.

"We will be manning a phone bank with local people making calls, and we will be making visits.

"We're also going to offer people rides to the polls on Tuesday," he said.

"This is the last week of the campaign, and it's a time when a lot of people who have ignored the race so far get interested. We need to direct that interest to Chandler and the other Democrats on the ticket.

"We realize that there are a lot of Republican-leaning people who register Democrat in this county so they can vote in primaries, but you have to believe that the vast majority of registered Democrats are Democrats and would vote that way. We outnumber Republicans 12,000 to 5,000 in Boyle County, so it's our job to get as many of our people to the polls as possible. If we do, we should win."

McClain is not intimidated by the better than 2-to-1 voter registration advantage held by the Democrats.

It's about as meaningful as the big advantage the Chandler campaign owns locally in yard signs, he said.

He said how people feel on the issues and their overall political philosophies mean a lot more than how many Democrats are on the books or how many signs are in yards.

"I've been told by an old pro from here that in this part of the country, yard signs mean something," said McClain, who is a native of the Northeast. "But I also think positions on issues mean something, and on most issues, I believe most Democrats in this county hold the generally conservative views we Republicans hold, and that should translate into a Fletcher victory."

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