Does Handing Out Literature at Polling Places Help Candidates

Source: Philadelphia Bar Association
Source: Philadelphia Bar Association

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.

11 Responses

  1. Disappointed in the PBA. Why for statewide judicial races only endorse those candidates from Philadelphia? Literature was very misleading to voters. There were highly-recommended judicial candidates from other parts of the state that were totally overlooked by what was handed out.

  2. It takes three points of contact with each individual voter to get them to vote for your candidate. Phone banking (individual phone calls to voters), door to door canvassing, direct mail, social media, and meetings with the candidate and the voters are the types of contact. This is what political scientists have told us. It is hard work but it works. But you have to have a consistent message and a strong candidate that sticks to their principles and is not controlled by the DNC, the PA State Committee or other political machine. You need to target your voters and focus on voters identified as potential supporters and that are persuadable.

  3. People in precincts tend to listen to those who are present at these locations, election after election. Voters will consider recommended candidates from those who they know live in their community.
    We should never underestimate the power of neighbor to neighbor recommendations from our own neighbors.
    The lower the rung on political awareness the more trusted the recommendations becomes.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. The voters going out to vote in big elections like Pres or Gov may not be giving much thought to State Senate or House races. A word from a neighbor at the polls is all it takes to get votes for your candidate especially if the voter doesn’t know the candidates.

  4. The Last thing we need on Earth is Lawyers gaining even more Power by Telling us which Judges we should Vote for . Power Brokers Fixing Judges who then go on to Fix Cases for their Power Broker Lawyer Mentor Boss . We should Vote against whomever the Power Brokers tell US to Vote for . Vote for the independent Candidate as it is already extremely Hard to get on the Ballot .

  5. Better to pass out $ like we do. So far, it’s worked for La familia because the chumps are afraid to be honest so they stsy bought

  6. Most people don’t want to be bothered with campaign literature at the polling place. If they knew how much money is spent by the crumbling and ineffective ward structure on ballots, they would probably flip their lid.

  7. It’s definitely a help in lower visibility races such as Philly judicial races above. It’s also particularly useful at the municipal/school board level in races that don’t have party labels so you know who your desired party is supporting in those races (lest you don’t accidentally enable cross filing).

  8. Not going to win the race on it’s own, but of course, someone with a smile on their face, saying hello to you and handing you a well styled piece of literature will help those who either are undecided or, commonly, are going their to vote for one piece of the ticket (ex. president) and that literature turns them to the lower office candidate. Anyway, good article.

  9. Intelligent voters should know who they are voting for before going to the polling place. But, sometimes you are undecided even after research, and this endorsement material could be a deciding factor. For those accustomed to being compliant, it could be a major factor.

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