What do the academics say? Delivering lots of leaflets works

Welcome to the latest in my occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today the findings from Liberal Democrat campaigns officer turned academic John Ault.

His book Liberal Democrats in Cornwall – Culture, Character or Campaigns? includes the results of surveys in nine seats around the UK ahead of the 2010 general election where voting intention was compared with number of leaflets received from the Lib Dems outside of election time in the preceding year:

  • Average Lib Dem support across all voters: 23%
  • Average Lib Dem support across voters who recalled receiving 6+ Lib Dem leaflets: 37%

That 14% uplift is massive and took place even between people who did and did not receive lots of leaflets within the same constituency.

Q. Are we delivering too many leaflets? A. No, and here's why...

Why do the Liberal Democrats deliver so many leaflets? Do they work? And is there such a thing as too many leaflets? more

A word of caution is appropriate about whether this is solely due to leaflets as it may be that the people most likely to receive intensive literature campaigns were also most likely to be on the receiving end of other campaigning too. However, this variation took place despite overall low levels of canvassing being found in the survey. Moreover, the variation between ‘received lots of leaflets’ and ‘didn’t receive lots of leaflets’ was present within constituencies, and therefore does not reflect varying levels of Lib Dem press coverage in different places either.

In part the variation in the volume of literature may have been driven by assiduous local campaigners being keen to report back regularly to voters on their activities. But if that is the case it is simply a variation on the overall message, as the pattern would still be that people on the receiving end of high campaign intensity are more likely to vote Lib Dem.

As for how to put together the sort of organisation which can sustain a high-intensity campaign, and make it a high-quality one too, take a look at 101 Ways To Win An Election.

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

One response to “What do the academics say? Delivering lots of leaflets works”

  1. Of course this may be driven by the fact that people who both are interested in politics and care about the Lib Dems are also more likely to remember receiving a Lib Dem leaflet… You have an endogeneity problem in the research design.

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