My general feeling on ivory tower political scientists who comment on campaigns is about a 4. In my experience these individuals fall into two camps: those who are so far removed from the realities of campaign life that their work is totally misinformed or irrelevant and those who come to the right conclusions by proving things so obvious one wonders why they need to be investigated at all.
Once in a while however, this type of investigation proves useful if only because it serves as a great big "I told you so" to field program skeptics. For this reason, I was thrilled to read a Washington Post synopsis of "Mobilizing Inclusion, Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns" by professors Lisa García Bedolla and Melissa R. Michelson (who, I'm just pointing out, are women). Let's get to it.
Michelson asserts that "What really mobilizes these voters is repeated personal contacting." (Can I get an amen in here?!?!) She goes on to describe her research which included,
"268 get-out-the-vote field experiments conducted repeatedly across six electoral cycles from 2006 to 2008. These field experiments were focused on communities with a history of low participation and were conducted in partnership with non-partisan community-based organizations...
Our analysis shows that citizens who haven’t voted much in the past can be inspired by either door-to-door visits or live phone calls. Tellingly, our research shows that such contacts, especially if repeated, can produce habitual voters. Phone banks from which callers contact the same potential voters twice are especially effective in creating committed voters. Door-to-door campaigns also showed strong results, with one such effort increasing voter turnout by more than 40 percentage points. (To be sure, most get-out-the-vote campaigns produce smaller gains.)..
"Personal contact to encourage voting can be enough to cause many low-income minority people to see themselves anew, as the sorts of people who regularly go to the polls on Election Day. In turn, voting even once can become habit forming, reinforcing self-identification as “a voter” long after the initial conversation with a canvasser. What is more, voter contacts have strong spillover effects within households, boosting participation by others as much as 60 percent."
I can't wait to read this book!
Campaign Love and Mine,