Brief 04: Effective Campaign Strategies

 Natural experiment carried out by registrar
Vote in Person PrecinctsVote by Mail Precincts
Randomized Field ExperimentControl (no GOTV contact)22,769 voters in 51 precincts5,955 voters in 51 precincts
Treatment (GOTV contact)22,892 voters in 50 precincts6,825 voters in 50 precincts
 Total45,661 voters in 101 precincts12,780 voters in 101 precincts
Note: Treatment conditions for cluster randomized design. This is a factorial design in which one dimension was assigned “as-if” randomly by government and a second was assigned truly randomly by the research team.
1. Randomized field experiments have been used extensively in recent political science studies of the effects of grassroots mobilization on voter turnout, and have the advantage of assigning a treatment (e.g., being canvassed through GOTV), and random assignment to treatment and control groups helps to reduce bias in estimating the causal effect of GOTV on voting likelihood.
2. Intent-to-treat (ITT) estimates the effect of random assignment – that is those who the researchers intended to treat through GOTV canvassing – on probability of voting.
  • The context of the election, such as the campaign activity and salience, which conditions the impact of voting by mail systems, which are aimed at reducing the costs associated with turning out.
  • The fact that while enabling individuals to vote by mail reduces certain barriers to voting, it also reduces the social rewards that individuals gain when they are less intrinsically motivated to vote.
  • The fact that the type of voting system employed may be sufficient to swing an election.
  • Employing electoral strategies that increase the extrinsic social rewards that voters reap from turning out.