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Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy


  • Enrico Cantoni
  • Vincent Pons


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Cantoni & Vincent Pons, 2020. "Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy," NBER Working Papers 27433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27433
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Pons & Vestal Mcintyre, 2020. "Ground work vs. social media: how to best reach voters in French municipal elections?," Post-Print halshs-02515651, HAL.
    2. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso & Nunnari, Salvatore, 2020. "Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning," CEPR Discussion Papers 14312, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2016. "Persuasion and Gender: Experimental Evidence from Two Political Campaigns," CESifo Working Paper Series 5868, CESifo.
    4. Vincent Pons & Vestal Mcintyre, 2020. "Ground work vs. social media: how to best reach voters in French municipal elections?," Institut des Politiques Publiques halshs-02515651, HAL.
    5. Calderon, Alvaro & Fouka, Vasiliki & Tabellini, Marco, 2020. "Racial Diversity, Electoral Preferences, and the Supply of Policy: the Great Migration and Civil Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 14318, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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