Candidates spend considerable resources campaigning. Prior research indicates campaigning affects voting decisions but, as with advertising generally, what element of campaigning persuades – the content or its delivery method – is not fully understood. Using a field experiment in a 2010 general election for local office, we identify the mechanism behind one campaign method: candidate door‐to‐door canvassing. We vary both the method of contact and the information conveyed by campaign materials. We find that voters are persuaded by personal contact with the candidate and that personal contact apparently works by providing a costly signal of quality rather than through social pressure.
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