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Who Is Mobilized to Vote? A Re‐Analysis of 11 Field Experiments

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  • Kevin Arceneaux
  • David W. Nickerson

Abstract

Many political observers view get‐out‐the‐vote (GOTV) mobilization drives as a way to increase turnout among chronic nonvoters. However, such a strategy assumes that GOTV efforts are effective at increasing turnout in this population, and the extant research offers contradictory evidence regarding the empirical validity of this assumption. We propose a model where only those citizens whose propensity to vote is near the indifference threshold are mobilized to vote and the threshold is determined by the general interest in the election. Our three‐parameter model reconciles prior inconsistent empirical results and argues that low‐propensity voters can be effectively mobilized only in high‐turnout elections. The model is tested on 11 randomized face‐to‐face voter mobilization field experiments in which we specifically analyze whether subjects' baseline propensity to vote conditions the effectiveness of door‐to‐door GOTV canvassing. The evidence is consistent with the model and suggests that face‐to‐face mobilization is better at stimulating turnout among low‐propensity voters in prominent elections than it is in quiescent ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Arceneaux & David W. Nickerson, 2009. "Who Is Mobilized to Vote? A Re‐Analysis of 11 Field Experiments," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(1), pages 1-16, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:amposc:v:53:y:2009:i:1:p:1-16
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00354.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00354.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nickerson, David W., 2005. "Scalable Protocols Offer Efficient Design for Field Experiments," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 233-252, July.
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    Cited by:

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    3. Valentina A. Bali & Lindon J. Robison & Richard Winder, 2020. "What Motivates People to Vote? The Role of Selfishness, Duty, and Social Motives When Voting," SAGE Open, , vol. 10(4), pages 21582440209, October.
    4. J. Patrick Rhamey Jr & Bryan R. Early, 2013. "Going for the gold: Status-seeking behavior and Olympic performance," International Area Studies Review, Center for International Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 244-261, September.
    5. Ethan Kaplan & Fernando Saltiel & Sergio S. Urzúa, 2019. "Voting for Democracy: Chile's Plebiscito and the Electoral Participation of a Generation," NBER Working Papers 26440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bailey, Michael & Hopkins, Daniel J. & Rogers, Todd, 2013. "Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of Voter Persuasion Efforts," Working Paper Series rwp13-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. Franziska Marquart & Andreas C Goldberg & Claes H de Vreese, 2020. "‘This time I’m (not) voting’: A comprehensive overview of campaign factors influencing turnout at European Parliament elections," European Union Politics, , vol. 21(4), pages 680-705, December.
    8. Enrico Cantoni & Vincent Pons, 2020. "Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy," NBER Working Papers 27433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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