The Efficacy of Political Advertising: A Voter Participation Field Experiment with Multiple Robo Calls and Controls for Selection Effects

43 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2017

See all articles by Daniel Kling

Daniel Kling

George Mason University, Department of Economics, Students

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; George Mason University - Mercatus Center; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 4, 2016

Abstract

We document the effectiveness of robo calls for increasing voter participation despite most published research finding little or no effect of automated calls. We establish this finding in a large field experiment in a targeted, partisan get-out-the-vote campaign. Our experimental design includes a follow-up call, which allows us to control for selection effects. We identify subsets of subjects, for whom the treatment effects are substantially larger than those that are found in previous studies. Our findings show that robo calls can cause up to a one percentage point increase in voter turnout. Additionally, our experimental design allows for testing how the number of calls in a treatment, that is dosage, affects voter turnout. Here, results show that that a few extra calls increase the treatment effect, and that many additional calls decrease that effect.

Keywords: Field experiment, political advertising, voter turnout, selection effects

JEL Classification: D72, C93, M37

Suggested Citation

Kling, Daniel and Stratmann, Thomas, The Efficacy of Political Advertising: A Voter Participation Field Experiment with Multiple Robo Calls and Controls for Selection Effects (August 4, 2016). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2818182 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2818182

Daniel Kling (Contact Author)

George Mason University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/scholars/thomas-stratmann

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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