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
Date Written: 2009
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: Suggested Citation