In a randomized experiment in cooperation with two national parties competing in the 2013 congressional election in the Philippines, we estimate the causal effect on voting behavior of a town-hall style campaign in which candidates debate with voters. Keeping the parties’ platform fixed, we find that this “deliberative” style has a positive effect on parties’ vote shares compared to the status quo, in which voters play a passive role. Consistent with the parties’ advocacy for underprivileged groups, we observe heterogeneous effects by income and gender. We show that the larger effect of town-hall meetings on women and poor voters arises because deliberative campaigns are more effective in changing voters’ attitudes on gender inequality and poverty, as emphasized in parties’ platforms.

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