Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Get-Out-the-Vote Mail Can Be Key for Democrats

A recent New Republic article by Sasha Issenberg, a fellow at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, tackled a basic midterm challenge for Democrats: The coalition of young, demographically diverse, urban and mobile voters who sent Obama to the White House make up only 40% of those who normally vote in midterm elections; the regular midterm voters are primarily older conservatives. So if Democratic campaigns focus on winning over the people likely to cast ballots, they could be in trouble come November. "For a party populated by Unreliable voters, the midterm imperative is clear: ...go and turn out those who are already on your side but won't show up without a friendly nudge," argues Issenberg. Issenberg doesn't think that the way to capture those voters is an expensive TV ad war, however, especially since TV ad impact is "nearly impossible to measure." Instead, Issenberg argues that hundreds of rigorous tests in the last 15 years have "yielded a clear understanding" of the most effective get-out-the-vote methods: direct mail, phone calls and canvass visits. Unfortunately, few candidates have large enough volunteer forces for effective field operations, nor are there enough seasoned phone banks to handle millions of personalized election calls. That leaves direct mail as a proven, scalable, cost-effective tool. For example, by adding proven social motivation triggers to a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote letter, direct mail testing by Todd Rogers, a Harvard psychologist, found that mailers can boost the likelihood of voting by a third of the percentage point, Issenberg reports. Another recently tested concept involved adding a message that the voter may be called after the election to discuss poll experience (a subtle threat of accountability), which bumped up letter response by another 50% and dropped the cost per new vote to just $47. For the full article, read http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117520/how-democrats-can-avoid-going-down-2014-midterm-election

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