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The Elements of Political Persuasion: Content, Charisma and Cue


  • We thank members of the BC Citizens' Assembly and Fair Voting BC, especially Arjun Singh, Wendy Bergerud and Maxwell Anderson. We are also very grateful to members of the BC-STV campaign. The campaign manager, Susan Anderson-Behn, as well as Maggie Gilbert and David Gagnon provided invaluable input and cooperation. Thanks to the canvassers and enumerators involved in carrying out the project. We thank our research project managers, Stewart Prest and Pierce O Reilly, for handling the coordination of enumerators. Don Green and David Epstein gave thoughtful comments on the project design and John Bullock and Jon Eguia provided helpful comments on our analysis. We thank seminar participants at the 2009 APSA meetings and at Oxford and NYU. Thanks to Kjell Rubenson, Antje Ellermann and Alan Jacobs for help during the field work and to Ross Jenkins, Tina Narang, Ali Cirone and Sarah Khan for terrific research assistance. We thank Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Ryerson University for financial support.


Political campaigns employ complex strategies to persuade voters to support them. We analyse the contributions of elements of these strategies using data from a field experiment that randomly assigned canvassers to districts, as well as messaging and endorsement conditions. We find evidence for a strong overall campaign effect and show effects for both message-based and endorsement-based campaigns. However, we find little evidence that canvassers varied according to their persuasive ability or that endorser identity matters. Overall the results suggest a surprisingly muted role for idiosyncratic features of prospective persuaders.