What Persuades Voters? A Field Experiment on Political Campaigning

34 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jared Barton

Jared Barton

California State University, Channel Islands

Marco Castillo

Department of Economics, Texas A&M University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics; University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

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Date Written: February 2014

Abstract

Candidates spend considerable resources campaigning. Prior research indicates campaigning affects voting decisions but, as with advertising generally, what element of campaigning persuades – the content or its delivery method – is not fully understood. Using a field experiment in a 2010 general election for local office, we identify the mechanism behind one campaign method: candidate door‐to‐door canvassing. We vary both the method of contact and the information conveyed by campaign materials. We find that voters are persuaded by personal contact with the candidate and that personal contact apparently works by providing a costly signal of quality rather than through social pressure.

Suggested Citation

Barton, Jared and Castillo, Marco and Petrie, Ragan, What Persuades Voters? A Field Experiment on Political Campaigning (February 2014). The Economic Journal, Vol. 124, Issue 574, pp. F293-F326, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2400786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecoj.12093

Jared Barton (Contact Author)

California State University, Channel Islands ( email )

One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012
United States

Marco Castillo

Department of Economics, Texas A&M University ( email )

Allen Building
4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3137
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

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