JASPER, IN—A blue corrugated plastic sign bearing the name of candidate Todd Young has invigorated and galvanized voters in southeastern Indiana's 9th District congressional race, catapulting the Republican to an all but insurmountable lead over his opponent, Democratic incumbent Baron Hill.
The 24-by-18-inch signboard, which political pundits have called an "instant game changer" since its appearance on Jasper, IN's Jackson Street last Friday, features a red, white, and blue color scheme, four stars above Young's name, and the slogan "Promise of a New Tomorrow." It also includes the word "Vote" and a check-mark-filled square next to the candidate's name, a strategy expected to triple turnout at the polls as throngs of voters rush to support Young.
"When I drove by the sign two days ago, I had to pull over to the side of the road and catch my breath," said Jade Williams, 34, a lifelong Democrat and former supporter of Baron Hill. "I'd never felt such a profound connection to a candidate before. Then I saw the powerful red line under his name and knew I had to drive to City Hall immediately and register as a Republican."
"It's the promise of a new tomorrow," Williams added.
While the 9th District seat was considered a toss-up prior to the sign's erection, a tidal wave of support has now emerged for Young, who over the past two days has received key endorsements from Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and former president Bill Clinton.
Experts across the country are calling the small but legible sign a "brilliant political move," and have praised Young's campaign for making the sign double-sided so it can be seen by motorists driving in both directions.
A new Gallup poll now has Young ahead of Hill by nearly 65 points.
"Frankly, I can't envision any scenario in which Baron Hill can recover from this," political strategist Mary Matalin said on Meet The Press Sunday, adding that it was an inspired and ingenious decision to include both the first and last name of the candidate on the sign. "Yes, the bold capital letters capture our imagination, but they also assure voters that Todd Young will meet all political challenges with indomitable vigor and integrity."
Indiana University political science professor Henry Trout echoed Matalin's analysis, telling reporters he believes Young will easily carry all 20 counties in the district. Trout said he bases his landslide prediction on the fact that by Election Day most residents will have either viewed the sign personally or heard from their peers how its array of stars "makes one understand that Todd Young is a bright, shining beacon of hope, somebody capable of restoring faith in American politics."
"If that sign could talk," Trout continued, "it would say, 'Voting for a candidate other than Todd Young would be an affront to everything that makes this country great."
The dire predictions for Hill appear to be coming true: Local donors and the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have cut off funding to Hill, and reports from his election headquarters reveal a campaign in crisis mode. The few remaining workers who have not defected to the Young camp have been working 20-hour days, desperately scrambling to right their candidate's ship.
"That sign has destroyed us," said a senior Hill staffer speaking on condition of anonymity. "We've been brainstorming nonstop for days, and we think the only way to regain any ground would be for Baron to somehow appear in each constituent's living room, if only for 30 seconds, and either state his moral and political beliefs while his wife and children stand at his side or else rip into questionable statements Young has made in the past."
"But unfortunately, there's no way to achieve this," the source added.
At press time, the identity of the individual who placed the sign in his front yard, and essentially handed the Republican Party another seat in what figures to be a pivotal midterm election, was revealed to be Herb Whittaker, a 53-year-old hardware store employee.
"I wanted to show my support for Todd Young," Whittaker said. "So I put a sign on the lawn."