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Where the Trump name is emblazoned now: the front yard


HUDSON, Ohio >> Some stood alongside heavily trafficked highways, big enough to read a quarter-mile away.

Others occupied quiet corners on dusty county roads.

But an overwhelming majority had one thing in common: They heralded the name TRUMP.

Over the course of eight days, while traveling some 3,000 miles by motorcycle across the northern United States, I was steadily confronted by presidential yard signs.

I idly recorded those in support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump until, after the first few days, the number approached 100. I eventually lost count.

Those in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were comparatively easy to keep track of: I traveled nearly 2,500 miles before I saw a single one.

By the end of my trip, I’d spotted a whopping five.

The lopsided tally is at least partly a consequence of my route. Draw a sagging, squiggly line from Portland, Oregon, to Cleveland, and that’s roughly the path I took, riding my 1973 BMW R75/5 mainly on back roads and quiet highways: State Route 14 and U.S. Route 12 in Washington and Idaho, State Route 43 in Montana, U.S.-36 through Kansas and Missouri.

More often than not, the scenery consisted of the open road and wide views of the horizon, with the Grand Tetons and the greater Rockies in the West giving way to the grasslands and cornfields of the East.

Most of the states I visited — Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri — lean Republican, no doubt skewing the yard-sign count in Trump’s favor. I also spent much of the trip in rural areas, where Trump has found more support than Clinton.

Still, the route alone would not fully explain his utter dominance of the pastures, lawns and embankments that formed the margins of my field of vision.

Trump’s supporters also won handily when it came to enthusiasm: Many of the signs bearing his name were either homemade or custom-made, and many were closer in size to billboards than to traditional yard signs. (All five of the signs for Clinton, on the other hand, looked to be of the official campaign variety, about a foot tall and 2 feet wide.)

In northwest Kansas, one Trump sign took the form of blue stenciled letters, quickly and sloppily spray-painted on a plain white background.

In western Illinois, along Interstate 72, another was gonfalon-like and 10 feet tall.

Frank Dues, in Celina, Ohio, spent $500 to print a huge custom sign — 22 feet long, 9 feet wide — that hangs on the extended ladder of a fire truck at the entrance to his boom repair business.

CROOKED HILLARY IS A LIAR!! it says on one side. NO MORE BULL!!!! it says on the other, alongside TRUMP.

“It’s the debt that worries me — the $20 trillion,” said Dues, 57, who was warm and gracious when asked about the emphatic sign. “My grandkids, what are they going to pay, 70 percent tax when they’re my age?”

“It’s gotta get turned around. And it’s gotta get turned around soon,” Dues said.

Yard signs, one could argue, are an outdated form of political advertising. In campaigns increasingly conducted over the internet and through social media — where a single Twitter post can reach millions of potential voters — yard signs seem quaint, almost historical. Their audience is limited; they often read as personal endorsements more than attempts to win over others.

There’s no denying, though, that Trump’s supporters rule the roadways. It was not until Indiana that I spotted my first Clinton sign: It sat on the property of George Kyger, a few blocks from Main Street in Thorntown.

Kyger seemed baffled by Trump’s popularity.

“‘Make America great again’ — do you realize how far this country’s come in the last seven years? We have really come a long ways,” he said, citing low unemployment rates and recent gains in median household income. “It would be a shame to reverse all that.”

But in Indiana, Kyger’s views are in the minority — and, in his home county, his yard sign is more or less alone.

“Here in Boone County, you’re not going to find many,” he said when asked if he knew about other local Clinton signs. “I had to go to Tippecanoe County to get that, to the Democratic headquarters up in Lafayette.”

In Indiana, after all, the latest polls show Trump still out front, though his lead has diminished from the double-digit advantage he held in August.

Still, for Kyger, 75, it’s important to show support for Clinton.

“My tombstone is right over there, half a mile,” he said, pointing off in the distance. “I have, on that tombstone, a picture of a donkey. I’m a loyal Democrat.”

As I turned my bike to exit his driveway, Kyger recommended that I ride over to Thorntown’s Festival of the Turning Leaves, an annual event with food vendors, crafts and local music.

Especially eager for the music (one of the struggles I have on long motorcycle trips is the lack thereof), I told him I’d stop and have a look around.

But by the time I reached the crowds who were gathered there, just a few blocks to the east, a different kind of music had once again caught my attention.

It was the continuing chorus of America’s roadways, as sung by the yard signs of Thorntown: TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

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