Political

What the academics say: do election posters work?

Welcome to the latest in my occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – do election posters work?

Thanks to Tim Bale, here are the research findings from a test in the US where election posters placed outside properties or along the verges or roads are called ‘lawn signs’:

Although lawn signs rank among the most widely used campaign tactics, little scholarly attention has been paid to the question of whether they actually generate votes.

Working in collaboration with a congressional candidate, a mayoral candidate, an independent expenditure campaign directed against a gubernatorial candidate, and a candidate for county commissioner, we tested the effects of lawn signs by planting them in randomly selected voting precincts.

Electoral results pooled over all four studies suggest that signs increased advertising candidates’ vote shares. Results also provide some evidence that the effects of lawn signs spill over into adjacent untreated voting precincts.

Highlights

  • We conduct the first four randomized field trials of lawn signs.
  • On average, lawn signs increase vote share by 1.7 percentage points.
  • The effects of lawn signs spill over into adjacent precincts.

 
You can read the other posts in the What do the academics say? series here.

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