Articles

"Rep. Keith Ellison hones new voter-turnout strategy for Democrats"
[Allison Sherry] 12/26/15

Ellison is launching a new voter effort that Democrats around the country have high hopes will lead to more victories in nonpresidential elections, particularly in races where they have lost by razor-thin margins. Even nudging up voter turnout a few percentage points could have massive implications for legislative and statewide races. Read More...

"Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble."
[Matthew Yglesias] 10/19/15

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. Read More...

Experiments show this is the best way to win campaigns. But is anyone actually doing it?”
[David Broockman and Joshua Kalla]  11/13/14

There’s a refrain we hear about political campaigns every election cycle: "this year, campaigns waged an unprecedented ground game, having a face-to-face conversation with almost every single voter." Read More...

How Democrats Can Win Back the White Working Class and Increase Turnout Among Blacks and Latinos”
[Robert Kuttner] 11/17/14

Do more for minorities and the poor, and you presumably risk driving social conservatives even further into the arms of Republicans. But ignore the needs of those who need more government activism and the Democratic base fails to turn out. Read More...

How to get out the vote? (Keith Ellison demonstrates.)”
[Lori Sturdevant] 11/26/14

You’ve heard plenty about the lame, no-good, downright undemocratic turnout in this year’s election — a miserable 36 percent nationally, the lowest since World War II, and a barely respectable 50 percent in Minnesota. Read More...

New CIRCLE Estimate: 2014 Youth Turnout Was 22.2%

CIRCLE’s latest analysis of young people’s participation in last month’s midterm elections puts the youth turnout rate at 22.2%. Read More...

Top 8 Takeaways about Young Voters and the 2014 Election

Each election year, the headlines about youth voters tend to be the same. The relatively low turnout rate is usually lamented, and sometimes there is some analysis of whether one party (usually the Democrats) benefited from youth support. Read More...

If Millennials Had Voted, Last Night Would Have Looked Very Different”
[Jenna McLaughlin] 11/5/14

The GOP’s big Election Day victory may have a lot to do with who didn’t show up at the polls—and one of the groups that stayed home at a record rate were young people. Read More...

Latin Vote Turnout Rises in Midterms, Latinos More Engaged Than Ever, Experts Say”
[Rebecca Myles] 11/6/14

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) predicted a one percent increase in Latino voters during the midterm election, and were able to confirm that voter turnout went from seven percent to...Read More...

 

Published Academic Studies

2000 - GERBER, GREEN - THE EFFECTS OF CANVASSING, TELEPHONE CALLS AND DIRECT MAIL ON VOTER TURNOUT 

ABSTRACT

We report the results of a randomized field experiment involving approximately 30,000 registered voters in New Haven, Connecticut. Nonpartisan get-out-the-vote messages were conveyed through personal canvassing, direct mail, and telephone calls shortly before the November 1998 election. A variety of substantive messages were used. Voter turnout was increased substantially by personal canvassing, slightly by direct mail, and not at all by telephone calls. These findings support our hypothesis that the long-term retrenchment in voter turnout is partly attributable to the decline in face-to-face political mobilization.

2006 - NICKERSON, FRIEDRICHS, KING - PARTISAN MOBILIZATION CAMPAIGNS IN THE FIELD--RESULTS FROM A STATEWIDE TURNOUT EXPERIMENT IN MI

ABSTRACT

Political parties have recently rediscovered grassroots tactics for voter mobilization. The only solid evidence for the effectiveness of such get-out-the-vote (GOTV) tactics is based upon non-partisan field experiments that may not accurately capture the effectiveness of partisan campaign outreach. In order to address this lacuna, during the 2002 Michigan gubernatorial election, a large field experiment across 14 state house districts evaluated the cost effectiveness of three mobilization technologies utilized by the Michigan Democratic Party’s Youth Coordinated Campaign: door hangers, volunteer phone calls, and face-to-face visits. Contrary to past non-partisan experiments, our results indicate that all three GOTV strategies possess similar cost-effectiveness.

2007 - VAVRECK - THE EXAGGERATED EFFECTS OF ADVERTISING ON TURNOUT--THE DANGERS OF SELF REPORTS

ABSTRACT

Political Scientists routinely rely on self-reports when investigating the effects of political stimuli on behavior. An example of this is found in the American politics work addressing whether campaign advertising mobilizes voters. Findings appear to vary by methodology and are based on varying degrees of self-reports; yet, little attention is paid to the furtive complications that arise when self-reports are used as both dependent and independent variables. In this paper, I demonstrate and attempt to account for the correlated yet unobservable errors that drive self-reports of advertising exposure and political behavior. The results are from a randomized survey experiment involving approximately 1500 respondents. Before the 2002 elections, I showed a professionally developed, non-partisan, get-out-the-vote advertisement to a random subset of a randomly drawn national sample via televisions in their own homes. The analysis shows a great divide between the true effect (using assigned treatment and validated vote) and results using respondent recall of these activities.

2009 - MICHELSON, BEDOLLA, MCCONNELL - HEEDING THE CALL--THE EFFECT OF TARGETED TWO RD PHONE BANKS ON TURNOUT

ABSTRACT

Field experiments in voter mobilization have indicated that personal contact is most effective, but that multiple contacts have no apparent additional impact on voter turnout.  Yet, a number of theories from social psychology – cognitive dissonance theory, the theory of reasoned action, and the theory of the self-erasing nature of errors of prediction – would lead us to expect that a targeted follow-up contact, one that cues social norms, should have a greater impact on turnout. We test these theories using four phone banking field experiments that utilized follow-up calls to committed voters.  Contrary to previous studies, we find that this kind of targeted follow up greatly increases the effectiveness of phone bank campaigns, in some cases almost tripling their effect on voter turnout.

2012 - GREEN, MCGRATH, ARONOW - FIELD EXPERIMENTS AND THE STUDY OF VOTER TURNOUT

ABSTRACT

Although field experiments have long been used to study voter turnout, only recently has this research method generated widespread scholarly interest. This article reviews the substantive contributions of the field experimental literature on voter turnout. This literature may be divided into two strands, one that focuses on the question of which campaign tactics door do not increase turnout and another that uses voter mobilization campaigns to test social psychological theories. Both strands have generated stubborn facts with which theories of cognition, persuasion and motivation must contend.