09/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Where Are The Yard Signs?

At this point in the 2004 elections, you couldn't drive a block in my northwest suburban neighborhood without passing two Bush/Cheney yard signs , two more for Kerry/Edwards and a few for state and local candidates. It was even more prevalent than in 2000, when there seemed to be more Republican than Democratic signs but the overall number of signs was high. Driving through the neighborhood recently, it struck me that there are no signs anywhere. None for Obama, none for McCain, none for U.S. House District 10 incumbent Mark Kirk or his Democratic challenger, Dan Seals. The only signs to be seen -- and there are plenty of these -- are For Sale signs.

Thinking this must be a fluke of my neighborhood, I started to pay more attention as I drove around the suburbs and took the train into the city. No signs anywhere. I recall seeing a few Obama bumper stickers in recent months, and that's about it. It's not just me, either. An Internet search on the question turned up a August 7 poll on wherein 33 respondents said there were fewer signs and stickers for both candidates this election cycle, only 3 said there were more and 1 said there was no noticeable difference.

So the question is, where are the signs? Some possible contributing factors:

- Support for both candidates is weak. It's no shocker that conservatives are lukewarm on McCain , but I've been surprised by the number of suburbanites who are against the war and dislike Bush but are still not sold on Obama for various reasons, ranging from his inexperience to lingering resentment by Hillary supporters.

- Fear of reprisals. The '04 election was so ugly that some people who proclaimed their allegiance to a candidate reported being the victims of vandalism or road rage. The additional element of race and the suggestion of racism in this election might fuel these concerns.

- The signs cost money. Unlike previous elections, both candidates are charging a nominal fee for yard signs -- not much, but the principle of the thing might turn off some people

- No veeps. John Kerry selected his running mate on July 6, 2004, and Bush made it clear that he was sticking with Dick. If you buy an Obama or McCain sign today, it'll be out of date in a month. Besides, what if your guy chooses a running mate you hate?

- Out of fashion. If Vanity Fair or US Weekly declared yard signs to be as uncool as Hummers, I missed it.

There's also the possibility that I just haven't seen the forest of signs that have sprouted for one or both candidates in your neck of the woods. How about it, Chicagoland? What's in your neighbor's yard?