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By-Election Signage

2014 Alberta By-Election Sign Count

Four provincial by-elections in the fall of 2014 provided a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of candidate lawn signs as a campaign tool and to determine if the proportion of lawn signs in an election district could be used as a predictor of the final vote. While conventional wisdom from veteran campaigners claims a lawn sign on a yard to be worth anywhere between four to ten votes at the polls, there was little empirical research on the topic. We partnered with Mount Royal University Political Studies professor Duane Bratt to conduct a formal, systematic count of all lawn signs on private property in the three Calgary districts up for election: West, Elbow, and Foothills. The count correctly predicted the result and vote percentages in two out of three district (Elbow and Foothills). The count was less accurate in Calgary-West, where there were only 500 signs erected, compared to more than 1,000 in the other two districts. The study was covered in the following media articles:


“Why researchers say lawn signs could help predict election results.” Day 6, CBC Radio 1, October 11, 2019. 


“Alberta election 2019: Whose sign is it anyway?” Global News, March 26, 2019 


“Study finds number of political yard signs an indicator of final election results.” Calgary Herald. November 1, 2015. 


“Do political signs really translate into votes?” Calgary Herald. October 25, 2015 


“Can you read the signs to tell who will win? Political study aims to find out.” Calgary Herald, October 17, 2015. 

About the authors: Duane Bratt is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University. He teaches in the area of international relations and Canadian public policy. dbratt [at] 


Janet Brown is the Principal of Janet Brown Opinion Research and has been examining and tracking public opinion in Alberta for more than 25 years. planetjanet [at]  

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