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Campaigns & Elections: New Research Reveals Direct Mail To Be Most Credible Form Of Media Outreach Among Voters

February 1, 2018

By Elena Neely

Establishing credibility with voters has never been a more important – and challenging – task for campaigns.

That’s why the United States Postal Service® commissioned a voter survey in the aftermath of last November’s Virginia gubernatorial race. The intent was to explore voter attitudes and beliefs on the efficacy and authenticity of different forms of political outreach.

The results were fascinating and informative. But perhaps what stood out most was that voters ranked direct mail as the most credible form of political advertising.

Among many findings, the survey found that 68% of all surveyed voters ranked direct mail among their three most credible forms of political outreach. This outpaced competing forms of political outreach such as TV (59%), in home visits (47%) and digital ads (26%).

With this year’s elections set to be as competitive as ever, voter scrutiny over advertising techniques is front and center. The race for Virginia Governor was the most competitive gubernatorial election in the country last year, and a closer look at Postal Service® research provides valuable insights for campaigns:

Surveyed voters still see direct mail as a persuasive form of political outreach. When asked to rank the three most persuasive political outreach techniques, voters indicated that television (68%) and direct mail (65%) were highest.
Although these represent two traditional forms of political outreach, they performed far better than many of their newer counterparts. Emails (29%), digital ads (27%) and text messages (8%) all recorded significantly lower levels of persuasion – a trend that carried across every age group.

Virginia voters recorded political mail as helpful in helping them reach a voting decision. 46% of surveyed voters indicated that political mail proved helpful in making their voting decision, coming second only to TV (49%).
Perhaps most striking was that over half of surveyed Millennials (55%) indicated that mail was “very” or “somewhat” helpful in reaching a voting decision, a rate greater than Gen Xers (45%) and Baby Boomers (38%).

Millennials are the most likely to read their mail upon seeing it. In fact, 76% of Millennial respondents indicated that they are very or somewhat likely to read their mail upon seeing it, a figure higher than Gen Xers (65%) and Baby Boomers (61%).
Additionally, the survey reaffirmed the impact that mail can have in driving integrated, multi-channel campaigns. More than half of surveyed Millennials (58%) said that mail was very or somewhat likely to cause them to go to the internet to learn more about a race.

The midterm elections are fast approaching, and the Postal Service has specialists available to help campaigns capitalize on their direct mail outreach with voters. Whether it’s consultation on strategy, compelling mail piece design, or operational support, the Postal Service is committed to helping campaigns. If you want to talk to a direct mail specialist, please contact us directly or visit us at

When it comes to reaching voters, political direct mail is a persuasive, credible choice.

*All figures come from a USPS and Summit Research Virginia Post-Election Survey of 900 gubernatorial voters, conducted November 7-9, 2017.

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