Does Handing Out Literature at Polling Places Help Candidates
Handing out candidate listings is a common practice in elections across the state and in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Bar Association (PBA) decided to look into how effective handing out listings was as they looked to increase their influence in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas elections.
In a study conducted by Econsult Solutions of the PBA’s efforts showed that there was a benefit of having volunteers handing out listings at polling locations. In its study, Econsult Solutions found that having volunteers at polling places increased the gap between the recommended candidates and non-recommended candidates 0.41 points.
The study used 41 volunteers handing out the listings at randomized polling locations throughout the city.
The 0.41 point boost handing out the literature would have made a large difference in the results if only the polling locations with volunteers were counted. In those precincts, 8 of the 9 winners in would have been recommended candidates, instead of the 6 of 9 that won across the city.
Econsult broke down the precincts into four categories, high income (household median income > $50K), moderate income White, moderate income Black, and moderate income Hispanic. The race/ethnicity was determined by highest representation within the precinct. The effect of the volunteers was largest in the moderate income White and moderate income Hispanic precints.
Trying to apply these results to change the results of a city wide election presents difficulty though. It would take 532 polling places having a volunteer to change one of the three non-recommended candidates beaten by a recommended candidate.
The study does point out that the results could be improved. This election was the first time the PBA recruited and placed volunteers at polling places, as they continue to recruit and train volunteers, they will improve both the numbers and possibly the efficacy of the volunteers.