Do Community-Based Voter Mobilization Campaigns Work Even in Battleground States? Evaluating the Effectiveness of MoveOn's 2004 Outreach Campaign

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 3, pp. 63-82, 2008

20 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2008 Last revised: 17 Mar 2009

Joel A. Middleton

New York University (NYU) - The Steinhardt School

Donald P. Green

Columbia University

Date Written: December 16, 2008

Abstract

One of the hallmarks of the 2004 presidential election was the unusual emphasis on face-to-face voter mobilization, particularly face-to-face mobilization conducted within neighborhoods or social networks. Unlike previous studies of face-to-face voter mobilization, which have focused largely on nonpartisan campaigns conducted during midterm or local elections, this study assesses the effects of a campaign organized by MoveOn.org, an organization that allied itself with the Democratic Party in 2004 to aid presidential candidate John Kerry. A regression discontinuity analysis of 46,277 voters from 13 swing states demonstrates that neighbor-to-neighbor mobilization substantially increased turnout among target voters during the 2004 presidential election. Contact with MoveOn volunteers increased turnout by approximately nine percentage-points. This finding corroborates experimental findings showing the effectiveness of door-to-door canvassing but contradicts results suggesting that such mobilization is ineffective in the context of high-salience elections.

Keywords: GOTV, randomization, voter turnout, voter mobilization, US elections, MoveOn

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Middleton, Joel A. and Green, Donald P., Do Community-Based Voter Mobilization Campaigns Work Even in Battleground States? Evaluating the Effectiveness of MoveOn's 2004 Outreach Campaign (December 16, 2008). Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 3, pp. 63-82, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1316927

Joel A. Middleton

New York University (NYU) - The Steinhardt School ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Donald P. Green (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

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

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