The Persuasive Effects of Direct Mail: a Regression Discontinuity Approach

35 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2008 Last revised: 28 Aug 2008

See all articles by Alan Gerber

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Daniel P. Kessler

Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marc N. Meredith

Independent

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

During the contest for Kansas attorney general in 2006, an organization sent out 6 pieces of mail criticizing the incumbent's conduct in office. We exploit a discontinuity in the rule used to select which households received the mailings to identify the causal effect of mail on vote choice and voter turnout. We find these mailings had both a statistically and politically significant effect on the challenger's vote share. Our estimates suggest that a ten percentage point increase in the amount of mail sent to a precinct increased the challenger's vote share by approximately three percentage points. Furthermore, our results suggest that the mechanism for this increase was persuasion rather than mobilization.

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Kessler, Daniel Philip and Meredith, Marc N., The Persuasive Effects of Direct Mail: a Regression Discontinuity Approach (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14206. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1190355

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5232 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Daniel Philip Kessler (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-723-4492 (Phone)
650-725-6152 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marc N. Meredith

Independent

No Address Available

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