Thursday, August 02, 2007

Direct mail musings

According to progressive direct mail guru Mal Warwick, mail spending in the 2008 election will run from $800 million to $1 billion. That compares with $648 million in the 2004 election.

Meanwhile, according to academic researchers who study electoral campaigns, direct mail has negligible effects on voter turnout.

Maybe it's persuasive -- that is, instead of influencing whether people vote, it influences who they vote for? Apparently not. For example, according to a tightly designed study in a hotly contested primary that turned on a nasty "wedge" issue (abortion), direct mail only helped the pro-choice candidate when coupled with intensive phone contacts.

A chi-square test of the differences of support between subjects in the control and treatment groups indicates that the results are not statistically significant.

So what is direct mail good for? Perhaps for making profits for mail "experts" and fundraisers? This seems to be a campaign method whose time has come -- and gone.

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