Close followers of my twitter feed may recall that I have been participating in webinars from the super-awesome New Organizing Institute. Several weeks ago, they had a series of classes dedicated to GOTV (Get-Out-The-Vote for those not in the know) and highlighted this book, which I’ve owned for the last couple years.
So I figured since I enjoyed it and its NOI approved, I should share it…
Get Out the Vote; How to increase voter turnout, by Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber, 2nd ed. (2008)
Actual experiments in Political Science are somewhat rare, and field experiments are even more so, making generalizations difficult because we can never know all the variables that are causing an observed event. For a political scientist that means it is hard to confirm if a specific action caused the observed outcome and make definitive general theories. For a campaigner that means it is hard to know if what worked in one situation will work in another or if there were other factors at play.
This book is different because it is based on actual field experiments with voter turnout.
Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber are two Yale University Professors who conducted experiments in the US at different levels of government. Often the experiments were non-partisan but sometimes the experiments involved teaming up with political campaigns. Their experiments involved creating groups of voters who were exposed to different stimuli or were set as a control group and then checking official voter records to see what worked in increasing turnout and what didn’t.
Reminders on the Election Day?
… done by volunteers or by professionals?
… what specific language makes a difference?
… do different images on fliers have an impact?
The authors conducted almost a decade of experiments, in vary large scales, to evaluated the effectiveness of all of these strategies and just as important to cash strapped campaigned, they standardized the effectiveness in increasing turnout compared to the cost of each strategy.
As a campaigner, I found this book is incredibly fascinating.
However, for a book by academics based on experimental research, it is more accessible and easier to read than you might think. It’s written to aid actual campaigners or researchers not as a academic paper (although it does have citations and it’s statistical details included if you’re into that type of thing).
While it won’t replace having E-Day training from a party, it might add you in planning GOTV efforts and I learned a couple new ideas from the book … however, that’s a topic for another day.
Authors: Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber
Price: $19.95 US from the Brookings Institute