“The end of political campaigns as we know them? A new study suggests we’re doing it all wrong.”


Billions of dollars are spent every election cycle on advertising, which accounts for the lion’s share of the money in U.S. politics. Campaigns also spend countless hours organizing voter contacts in hopes of winning over would-be supporters.

A new study suggests it’s largely a waste — or something close to it.

The study from the University of California’s Joshua L. Kalla and Stanford University’s David E. Broockman challenges some of the most widespread preconceptions about political campaigns — starting, first and foremost, with the idea that trying to persuade voters is a good use of a campaign’s time and resources. (A brief description of the study can be found here.)

The study’s authors combined a hodgepodge of 40 existing experiments on the persuasive effects of advertising and campaign contacts, and then they added nine extensive new studies of their own. The new studies were conducted during the 2016 election with the labor group Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

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