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The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment

American Political Science Review, Vol. 94, No. 3, pp.653-663, 2000

Posted: 11 Dec 2008  

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Donald P. Green

Columbia University

Date Written: December 9, 2008

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.

Keywords: GOTV, field experiment, randomization, voter mobilization, voter turnout

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Green, Donald P., The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment (December 9, 2008). American Political Science Review, Vol. 94, No. 3, pp.653-663, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1313713

Alan Gerber (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5232 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Donald P. Green

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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