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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy

Enrico Cantoni, Vincent Pons

NBER Working Paper No. 27433
Issued in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

We test whether politicians can use direct contact to reconnect with citizens, increase turnout, and win votes. During the 2014 Italian municipal elections, we randomly assigned 26,000 voters to receive visits from city council candidates, canvassers supporting the candidates' list, or to a control group. While canvassers’ visits increased turnout by 1.8 percentage points, candidates’ had no impact on participation. Candidates increased their own vote share in the precincts they canvassed, but only at the expense of other candidates on the list. This suggests that their failure to mobilize nonvoters resulted from focusing on securing the preferences of active voters.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27433

 
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