Get Out the Vote-by-Mail? A Randomized Field Experiment Testing the Effect of Mobilization in Traditional and Vote-by-Mail Precincts

34 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 14 Oct 2009

See all articles by Kevin Arceneaux

Kevin Arceneaux

Temple University - Department of Political Science

Thad Kousser

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Megan Mullin

Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Does the effectiveness of a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) contact depend upon the method by which a voter casts a ballot? This study investigates whether those who must vote by mail are more or less responsive to a face-to-face mobilization message than voters who live in traditional precincts with polling places. We combine a natural experiment designed to isolate the effects of voting by mail with a field experiment probing the impact of a door-to-door GOTV drive. Implementing this design in the November, 2008 general election in San Diego County, we hired professional canvassers to target a total of 29,717 randomly-assigned registered voters. We find that a face-to-face GOTV contact has a larger effect on the participation of those who vote at polling places than it does on registrants assigned to vote by mail, but only among individuals whose voting behavior is most likely to be shaped by extrinsic social rewards.

Keywords: Get Out The Vote, Campaigns, Voting-by-Mail, Social Rewards, Field Experiment, Natural Experiment

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Arceneaux, Kevin and Kousser, Thad and Mullin, Megan, Get Out the Vote-by-Mail? A Randomized Field Experiment Testing the Effect of Mobilization in Traditional and Vote-by-Mail Precincts (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1451221

Kevin Arceneaux (Contact Author)

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Thad Kousser

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Megan Mullin

Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment ( email )

Box 90328
Durham, NC 27708-0328
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
90
Abstract Views
767
rank
286,374
PlumX Metrics