What Works to Turn Out Voters?
[Anne Kim] 7/7/16

Research finds same-day voter registration and vote by mail to be the most effective strategies. Robo-calls? Not so much. Read More...

For real this time: Talking to people about gay and transgender issues can change their prejudice.
[John Bohannon] 4/7/16

Last summer, while media clamored for him to comment on a scientific scandal he had helped reveal, David Broockman was keeping a explosive secret of his own.   Read More...

How do you change voters' minds?  Have a conversation.
[Benoit Denizet-Lewis] 4/7/16

Going door to door, a Los Angeles-based activist group tries to reduce prejudice against transgender people. A new study finds that it works.   Read More...

Voter Suppression Battles To Watch In 2016
[Kira Lerner] 1/17/16

As presidential candidates begin the year by gearing up for primary season, Republican-controlled state houses and lawmakers across the country are doing everything they can to suppress votes and to swing elections in their favor.  Read More...

One party system: What total Republican control of a state really means
[Herman Schwartz] 8/19/15

The U.S. Constitution gives the states almost total control over how Americans live and vote. Republicans appear to have grasped the importance of this, but most Democrats have not. Since losing the White House and Congress in 2008, the GOP has focused time, money and talent on gaining control of state governments. Read More...

Democrats debate big-money strategy
[Tarini Parti] 11/17/14

Democrats learned the value of outside money after getting crushed in 2010. In 2014, they learned that big money alone is not enough.With 2016 on the horizon, Democrats involved in outside groups are keen to avoid getting schooled again. Read More...

How to Win Like Elizabeth Warren
[Stephanie Taylor] 11/19/14

From the rubble of the 2014 election, a conversation has started about the future of the Democratic Party. Senator Elizabeth Warren is central to that conversation. Read More...

Al Franken Was Liberal Enough, Tough Enough, and Doggone It, People Reelected Him The Minnesota senator showed Dems how to win. 
[Patrick Caldwell] 11/14/14

One evening a few days before the midterm elections, Sen. Al Franken stood on a low raised platform at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's St. Paul headquarters, addressing a few dozen loyal supporters. Read More...

Can Democrats Ever Win Back State Legislatures? One group is putting $70 million on it happening in the next five years. 
[Emma Roller] 2/24/15

Caring about the 2016 presidential race is so over; now all the cool kids are watching 2020. Read More...

Charles Stewart's First 2014 Survey Data Shows Continued Drift Away From "Election Day"
[Doug Chapin] 2/12/15

Professor Charles Stewart of MIT has released the first data from his 2014 edition of the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) - and it shows...Read More...

When Liberals Were Organized
[Julian Zelizer] Winter 2015

When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time in 40 years, one of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s earliest moves was to end the public funding for...Read More...

Looking Back at Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy”
[Louis Jacobson] 5/6/13

Despite opposition from national Democrats, the former Vermont governor's bid to build up party infrastructure in every state was a success in the unlikeliest of places -- at least while it lasted. Read More....

Minority groups: Dems still falling short in consultants’ diversity”
[Lauren French / Anna Palmer] 2/5/15

Three months after a devastating loss that could put them deep in the political wilderness for years, House Democrats still haven’t fixed one of their members’ biggest complaints — the need to hire more minority consultants. Read More...

The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections”
[Lynn Vavreck] 4/22/14

If you want to understand the 2014 midterm elections, remember this simple fact about American politics: There just aren’t that many swing voters. Read More...



Published Academic Studies



Existing research depicts intergroup prejudices as deeply ingrained, requiring intense intervention to lastingly reduce. Here, we show that a single approximately 10-minute
conversation encouraging actively taking the perspective of others can markedly reduce prejudice for at least 3 months. We illustrate this potential with a door-to-door canvassing intervention in South Florida targeting antitransgender prejudice. Despite declines in homophobia, transphobia remains pervasive. For the intervention, 56 canvassers went door to door encouraging active perspective-taking with 501 voters at voters’ doorsteps. A randomized trial found that these conversations substantially reduced transphobia, with decreases greater than Americans’ average decrease
in homophobia from 1998 to 2012. These effects persisted for 3 months, and both transgender and nontransgender canvassers were effective. The intervention also increased support for a nondiscrimination law, even after exposing
voters to counterarguments.



Political campaigns spend millions of dollars each voting cycle on persuading voters, and it is well established that these campaigns do affect voting decisions. What is less understood is what element of campaigning—the content of the message or the delivery method itself— sways voters, a question that relates back to how advertising works generally. We use a field experiment in a 2010 general election for local office to identify the persuasive mechanism behind a particular form of campaigning: candidate door-to-door canvassing. In the experiment, the candidate either canvassed a household or left literature without meeting the voters. In addition, the literature either contained information on the candidate or on how to vote. Our main result is that voters are most persuaded by personal contact (the delivery method), rather than the content of the message. Given our setting, we conclude that personal contact seems to work, not through social pressure, but by providing a costly or verifiable signal of quality



Scholars do not usually test for the duration of the effects of mass communication, but when they do,they typically find rapid decay.Persuasive impact may end almost as soon as communication ends. Why so much decay? Does mass communication produce any long-term effects?How should this decay color our understanding of the effects of mass communication? We examine these questions with data from the effects of advertising in the 2000 presidential election and 2006 sub-national elections, but argue that our model and results are broadly applicable within the field of political communication. We find that the bulk of the persuasive impact of advertising decays quickly, but that some effect in the presidential campaign endures for at least 6 weeks. These results, which are similar in rolling cross-section survey data and county-level data on actual presidential vote,appear to reflect a mix of memory-based processing (whose effects last  only as long as short-term memory lasts) and online processing (whose effects are more durable). Finally, we find that immediate effects of advertising are larger in sub-national than presidential elections, but decay more quickly and more completely.



Most people interested in participating in the electoral process are registered to vote.  This self-selection process creates two empirical puzzles.  First, it is unclear whether voter registration drives introduce new voters into the electorate or simply facilitate a bureaucratic transaction that people registering would accomplish via other means in the absence of the drive.  Second, estimating the causal effect of registration on turnout is difficult because the act of selection signals political interest and engagement that is correlated with turnout.  The paper utilizes field experiments to answer these two questions and the second question of the type of person mobilized by registration drives.1  Across six cities, 620 streets were randomly assigned to receive face-to-face visits encouraging voter registration or a control group that received no attention from the campaign.  On average, 10 more newly registered people appeared on treatment streets than control streets – an increase of 4.4%.  This suggests that registration is a burden for a portion of the eligible population.  Comparing the number of ballots cast by newly registered voters, treatment streets averaged 2 more votes than control streets.  That is, 24% of the people registered as a direct result of the experiment voted.   Disaggregating the results by socio-economic status, the increase in registration is largest on relatively poor streets, but this difference is counter-balanced by higher turnout among new registrants on relatively affluent streets.  Thus, the results of these six experiments suggest that electoral reforms reducing the costs associated with voter registration will assist a non-trivial portion of the electorate, but the overall composition of the electorate.



Internet advertisements are an increasingly common form of mass communication and present fresh opportunities for understanding enduring questions about political persuasion. However, the effects of online ads on electoral choice have received little scholarly attention. We develop a new field experimental approach for assessing the effects of online advertisements and deploy it in two studies. In each study, candidates for legislative office targeted randomly selected segments of their constituencies for a high volume of Facebook advertising. Recall of the ads, candidate name recognition, and candidate evaluations were measured with ostensibly unrelated telephone surveys after weeklong advertising campaigns. Voters randomly exposed to the ads were in some cases more likely to recall them but no more likely to recognize or positively evaluate the candidates they depicted. From a theoretical standpoint, these findings suggest that even frequent exposure to advertising messages may be insufficient to impart new information or change attitudes.