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Do get-out-the-vote calls reduce turnout? The importance of statistical methods for field experiments

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  • Kosuke Imai

Abstract

In their landmark study of a field experiment, Gerber and Green (2000) found that get-out-the-vote calls reduce turnout by five percentage points. In this article, I introduce statistical methods that can uncover discrepancies between experimental design and actual implementation. The application of this methodology shows that Gerber and Green's negative finding is caused by inadvertent deviations from their stated experimental protocol. The initial discovery led to revisions of the original data by the authors and retraction of the numerical results in their article. Analysis of their revised data, however, reveals new systematic patterns of implementation errors. Indeed, treatment assignments of the revised data appear to be even less randomized than before their corrections. To adjust for these problems, I employ a more appropriate statistical method and demonstrate that telephone canvassing increases turnout by five percentage points. This article demonstrates how statistical methods can find and correct complications of field experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Kosuke Imai, 2005. "Do get-out-the-vote calls reduce turnout? The importance of statistical methods for field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00272, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00272
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kosuke Imai & David A. van Dyk, 2004. "Causal Inference With General Treatment Regimes: Generalizing the Propensity Score," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 854-866, January.
    2. Alan Gerber & Donald Green, 2001. "Getting out the youth vote: Results from randomized field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00260, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:50:y:1956:i:01:p:154-165_06 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dino Gerardi & Margaret A. McConnell & Julian Romero & Leeat Yariv, 2016. "Get Out The (Costly) Vote: Institutional Design For Greater Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1963-1979, October.
    2. Kosuke Imai, 2009. "Statistical analysis of randomized experiments with non-ignorable missing binary outcomes: an application to a voting experiment," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 58(1), pages 83-104.
    3. Chudgar, Amita & Quin, Elizabeth, 2012. "Relationship between private schooling and achievement: Results from rural and urban India," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 376-390.
    4. J. Ryan Lamare, 2016. "Labor Unions and Political Mobilization: Diminishing Returns of Repetitious Contact," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 346-374, April.
    5. Anderson, Simon P & Meagher, Kieron J, 2012. "Choosing a Champion: Party Membership and Policy Platform," CEPR Discussion Papers 8941, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:aea:aejapp:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:207-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Imai, Kosuke, 2008. "Sharp bounds on the causal effects in randomized experiments with "truncation-by-death"," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 144-149, February.
    8. Martin Andrew D. & Hazelton Morgan L.W., 2012. "What Political Science Can Contribute to the Study of Law," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 511-529, October.
    9. Musharraf Rasool Cyan & Antonios M. Koumpias & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2016. "The Effects of Media Campaigns on Individual Attitudes towards Tax Compliance; Quasi-experimental Evidence from Survey Data in Pakistan," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1609, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    10. Xavier Giné & Ghazala Mansuri, 2018. "Together We Will: Experimental Evidence on Female Voting Behavior in Pakistan," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 207-235, January.
    11. Sean Richey & Ken'ichi Ikeda, 2009. "Institutional Incentives and Trust: Marginalized Groups and the Creation of Trust in Local Government," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(4), pages 911-926.
    12. Laura Langbein, 2009. "Beyond random assignment for internal validity and beyond social research for random assignment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 173-174.

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