Direct mail tops TV and digital ads in helping swing voters decide their candidates. A survey by Summit Research on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) found that 58 percent of swing voters responding said direct mail is either “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful” in deciding how and whom to vote for, beating out television (55 percent), online (48 percent) and email (46 percent). Approximately one of three registered voters surveyed identified as a swing voter. Among those surveyed, 14 percent said they were “undecided,” and 18 percent said they “might change their minds.”

The survey also found that 54 percent of swing voters say they read political direct mail immediately upon receiving it and 24 percent will save it to read later. However, 52 percent say they’ve not received any political mail at their residences, while in comparison, 80 percent report seeing political television ads.

“When political races are tight, campaigns need to know what influences swing voters,” says Cliff Rucker, vice president of sales for the USPS. “Political mail spending has increased nationally by 50 percent since the last presidential election. As campaigns use more mail, it’s all the more reason to explore mail’s impact.”

According to the USPS, spending on political mail increased from $176 million (October 2011–July 2012) to $268 million (October 2015–July 2016).

The survey also found that 60 percent of all voters read political mail about a candidate or issue immediately after receiving it, and 24 percent save it to read later, and they find direct mail most helpful overall for learning voter registration deadlines. More than two in three voters surveyed (68 percent) say “direct mail sent to my home” is the top choice to inform them about registering to vote in their state, rating it either “very useful” or “pretty useful,” compared to ads on television (65 percent), online (52 percent) and radio (50 percent).

Furthermore, voters are “most likely” to use political mail to learn about a candidate’s position on the issues (53 percent), followed by voting record or past statements (37 percent), biographical information (32 percent) and endorsements (28 percent).

“Direct mail delivers a civic education to the voting public, exerting an influence that goes wide and deep,” adds Rucker. “Direct mail informs voters about candidates’ stand on issues, dates for state registration deadlines, early voting and much more.”