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Put up a “YES” corflute. Yeah, seriously

Why displaying a “YES” corflute or poster is more important than you might think

You might have seen YES corflutes (featuring the artwork of Birri Gubba unionist Lara Watson) beginning to dot the front fences of your neighbours. But have you ever wondered why we bother with these signs?

“Corflutes” – technically the name of the corrugated plastic that lawn signs are printed on – are a political communications staple in Australia, but there is surprisingly little research about their effectiveness as a campaign tactic.

A few studies – including one where a fake candidate attracted a quarter of the vote purely from lawn sign distribution – have shown that corflutes for political candidates can positively influence name recognition, but what about issue-based corflutes?

The theory behind signs such as “YES” corflutes is that they affect localised social pressure – that is, they create the impression that “people in my community are all voting Yes”. For a not-insignificant portion of the population, such signals will be important in determining their vote – perhaps especially in this referendum.

 

Early in the campaign you couldn't get a corflute for love nor money, & some volunteers made their own!

 

VTHC Campaign Lead Claire explains: “Peter Dutton and the Liberals are spreading the message that the Voice to Parliament is too complicated for people to understand, because they know that if voters are confused, they’ll vote no. It’s important that we normalise and project confidence in the ‘Yes’ vote by reassuring people that a lot of others in their community are voting yes!”

In this context, local signals about voting intention are incredibly persuasive. While “Yes” corflutes are popping up everywhere in our local communities, the “No” campaign seems to exist primarily in the comments section of facebook posts… and of course, in the media.

“You’ve got the Murdoch-owned media absolutely going off tap about polling numbers, trying to sell the message that most Australians are voting No."says VTHC Media & Communications Lead Edwina.

"We saw the same thing last year with the State Election – they really boosted the coverage of anti-vaxxer, anti-Labor voices to the exclusion of all others, and they were very confidently predicting that Labor would lose majority government in Victoria”.  Spoiler alert – Victorians comprehensively rejected both the Liberal Party and the Herald Sun’s feral editorials.

“Something that’s worth keeping in mind is that the media has an interest in reporting a close race and a lot of division. That gets clicks.” Says Edwina. “But we have certainly seen in Victoria that people are pretty capable of tuning out the media noise and voting with their values and in the interest of their communities”. 

With the Murdoch Press firmly in the “No” camp and an all-out misinformation campaign taking place online, it’s vital that those of us willing to stand with our First Nations brothers and sisters do so as visibly as possible and project confidence in the success of the referendum. People want to be on the right side of history – it’s our job to show that voting “Yes” is the way to do that.

You can pick up a corflute from Victorian Trades Hall Council (or one of our regional trades and labour councils) Monday – Friday 9-5.

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