Field Experiments and the Study of Voter Turnout

  title={Field Experiments and the Study of Voter Turnout},
  author={Donald P. Green and Mary C McGrath and Peter M. Aronow},
  journal={Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties},
  pages={27 - 48}
Although field experiments have long been used to study voter turnout, only recently has this research method generated widespread scholarly interest. This article reviews the substantive contributions of the field experimental literature on voter turnout. This literature may be divided into two strands, one that focuses on the question of which campaign tactics do or do not increase turnout and another that uses voter mobilization campaigns to test social psychological theories. Both strands… 

Voter Mobilization, Experimentation, and Translational Social Science

Field experiments on voter mobilization enable researchers to test theoretical propositions while at the same time addressing practical questions that confront campaigns. This confluence of interests

Field Experiments on Political Behaviour

Field experiments allow researchers on political behaviour to test causal relationships between mobilisation and a range of outcomes, in particular voter turnout. These studies have rapidly increased

Struggling up the hill

This paper examines the effects of three main forms of campaign communication on voter turnout in the 2013 German Federal Election – party contact, the news media’s political coverage and everyday

Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of a Voter Persuasion Effort

To date, field experiments on campaign tactics have focused overwhelmingly on mobilization and voter turnout, with far more limited attention to persuasion and vote choice. In this paper, we analyze

The psychology of electoral mobilization: a subtle priming experiment

ABSTRACT In this paper we test the idea that citizens can be stimulated to vote in an election via subtle psychological processes, which have little or nothing to do with the act of voting as such.

Political Mobilization in the Laboratory: The Role of Norms and Communication

A theoretical framework that investigates the psychological mechanisms underlying mobilization in both partisan and non-partisan settings is proposed and experimentally test, showing that the combination of a mobilization effort with a normative appeal leads to a significant and substantial increase in participation in both settings.

Partisan Social Pressure and Voter Mobilization

Social voting norms persistently impel citizens to the polls. To date, most research in this field has focused on norms coming from the community at large rather than voters’ particular social

The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments

Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans’ candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and



Does canvassing increase voter turnout? A field experiment.

  • A. GerberD. Green
  • Economics
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1999
It is found that personal canvassing increased voter turnout by approximately 6.5% shortly before the November 1998 election, and the effect of personal contact seems to be slightly smaller for voters registered with a major political party and higher for unaffiliated voters.

Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

Voter turnout theories based on rational self-interested behavior generally fail to predict significant turnout unless they account for the utility that citizens receive from performing their civic

A Field Experiment on the Effects of Negative Campaign Mail on Voter Turnout in a Municipal Election

This field experiment is used to expose a random sample of voters in a 2003 mayoral race to various pieces of negative direct mail advertising. Exposure to the negative advertising stimulus improved

Unintentional Voter Mobilization: Does Participation in Preelection Surveys Increase Voter Turnout?

Survey researchers have long been concerned with the question of whether participation in preelection surveys increases voter turnout. This article presents findings from three large-scale field

Stimulating Voter Turnout in a Primary

This study reports on a field experiment of a precinct committeeman's efforts to stimulate voter turnout in the 1980 primary election. The experimentally manipulated variables included both the

Habit-Formation and Political Behaviour: Evidence of Consuetude in Voter Turnout

The extensive literature on voter turnout has devoted relatively little attention to the hypothesis that casting a ballot in one election increases one's propensity to go to the polls in the future.

Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions

We conducted a field experiment to measure the effect of exposure to newspapers on political behavior and opinion. Before the 2005 Virginia gubernatorial election, we randomly assigned individuals to

Using Experiments to Estimate the Effects of Education on Voter Turnout

The powerful relationship between education and voter turnout is arguably the most well-documented and robust finding in American survey research. Yet the causal interpretation of this relationship

Self-prophecy effects and voter turnout: An experimental replication

Psychological research has found that being asked to predict one's future actions can bring about subsequent behavior consistent with the prediction but different from what would have occurred had no