One of the habits I developed back in my party officer days was counting yard signs that I would see in my routine travels around the state. It is amazing how frequently the number and location of yard signs is indicative of the ultimate result, especially in primaries.
For the last several weeks I've noticed that Brad Zaun's yard signs easily outnumber his collective opponents by about a factor of four. Brad's dominance of the west suburban venue is probably closer to ten to one. Des Moines' west suburbs of Urbandale, Johnston, West Des Moines, Clive and Windsor Heights contains the greatest concentration of next Tuesday's electorate.
Mark Rees has a nice presence in the west suburbs and few good locations down 163 to Mahaska County. Mark has had some good campaign news recently.
Dave Funk has shown a real upsurge in the east suburbs. Dave's blue signs have taken the lead in Altoona and other parts east. We could use some input on Ankeny because I have not yet been up there much in the last six weeks.
A few Bertroche signs have popped up in the last couple of weeks. Pat's dad, longtime Des Moines lawyer Joe Bertroche's SE 14th Street office location provides Pat with visibility to tens of thousands of cars a day.
The mystery man has been Jim Gibbons. I've been as far east as Iowa County and as far south as Mahaska. Jim's got a few nice locations but overall almost no skin in the yard and barn sign game. Today I had occasion to travel to Boone via the Highway 17 detour, so I saw more of Madrid, Woodward and other even less populous parts of Iowa's "Fourth" Congressional District, Jim's place of residence. There were more Gibbons signs up along today's Dallas and Boone County route than had been previously spotted in Polk County and the rest of the Third District.
It may not be scientific but there's a reason every candidate spends a ton on yard signs in every election in every jurisdiction in every state in the country. Moreover, yard and barn sign activity and location are indicative of a candidate's overall ground game, turn out program and voter intensity. Ground game is more often that not the decisive factor in a close primary.
Given the recent disappearance of the Gibbons television ads it looks like the rumors that Rees has passed Gibbons for second in the polls might be true. If Dave Funk's recent upsurge in yard sign activity evidences a surge in supporter intensity then Jim may well slide all the way into fourth place. The two candidates are fighting for a common voter demographic and it looks like Mark is pulling out ahead in that constituency.