Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of Voter Persuasion Efforts

46 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2013 Last revised: 28 May 2014

Michael Bailey

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 26, 2014

Abstract

Can randomized experiments at the individual level help assess the persuasive effects of campaign tactics? To answer that question, we analyze a field experiment conducted during the 2008 presidential election in which 56,000 registered voters in Wisconsin were assigned to persuasive canvassing, phone calls, and/or mail. We find that persuasive appeals by canvassers had two unintended consequences. First, they reduced responsiveness to a follow-up survey among infrequent voters, a substantively interesting behavioral response that has implications for the statistical analysis of persuasion experiments. Second, the persuasive appeals possibly reduced candidate support and certainly did not increase it. This counter-intuitive finding is reinforced by multiple statistical methods and suggests that contact by a political campaign can engender a backlash.

Keywords: Persuasion, campaign effects, U.S. presidential elections, missing data, field experiments

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Michael and Hopkins, Daniel J. and Rogers, Todd, Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of Voter Persuasion Efforts (May 26, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2307631 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2307631

Michael Bailey

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States
202-687-6021 (Phone)
202-687-5858 (Fax)

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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