PS6 Midterm Study GUide - Social Pressure and Voter Turnout...

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Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment What is the question? To what extent do social norms cause voter turnout? What is the study population? 180,000 homes in Michigan. Households- everyone w the same address and same last name. Removed people who lived on blocks with more than 10% of addresses were apartments, removed ppl who live on streets with fewer than 4 addresses or fewer than 10 voters. Also removed households if: all ppl in household had over 60% probability of voting by absentee ballot (bc ppl may decide to vote or not prior to receiving mailings), or if all ppl had over 60% probability of choosing Democratic primary rather than Republican primary (bc there was a lack of competition in Democratic so that could effect if they would vote or not). Removed all who didn’t vote in 2004 election (bc that was a very high-turnout election and if they didn't vote it was likely they moved, died, or registered under another name). What is the hypothesis? Voter turnout is influenced by social pressure, particularly through direct mail when social pressure is exerted. What is the design? Households assigned to treatment were sent one mailing 11 days prior to primary election. ~100,000 households in control group. 4 Diff treatment groups (each ~20,000 households): (all four contained: DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY- VOTE) 1. “Civic Duty”- little besides this 2. This plus, “you are being studied”, voting records would be observed in public records 3. “self”- informed that who votes is public info. And shows the names of ppl in the households with “voted” or “not voted” 4. “neighbors”- Will mail an updated chart later about whether you or your neighbors voted. How can we evaluate the design? What are the results? With each level of mailings (1-4), the turnout increased. The influence of single piece of direct mail is only formidable when social pressure is exerted (exposing ones voting record to neighbors). It’s as strong as the effect of direct contact by door- to-door canvassers and the most cost-effective. Phone calls: Unhurried, personal and non-mechanical significantly better. The content didn't make a difference though. What do you conclude? That the hypothesis was correct.
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Gerber and Green: New Haven Experiment •What is the question? oGradually over time, professional campaign consultants, direct mail vendors, and commercial phone banks (mass marketing techniques) have replaced the face-to-face appeals of party activists attempting to connect with voters before elections. (campaigns are still reaching as many people, but just through less personal means) •What is the study population?
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