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Book Review: “Get Out The Vote”

Reader Submitted Book Review

Get Out The Vote

by Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber

The Democrats have been on a roll. They took control of the Congress in 2006, the White House in 2008 and 2012, and last year swept all three state-wide offices in Virginia. Many of their victories, however, were by very small margins. Cuccinelli only lost by 2 percent of the vote, and Obenshain lost by only a few hundred. What if these small margins of victory were simply the result of better campaign techniques? What if Republicans could thwart the Progressive onslaught by learning to campaign better?

In their book, Get Out the Vote, Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber document the effective, and not so effective, ways to increase voter turnout. Both authors are political science professors at Yale University.

They used data from more than 100 experiments over 10 election cycles from the period 1998 to 2007. The studies they draw their conclusions from use randomized-controlled experiments, a research methodology that produces a reliable way to draw conclusions.

They applied this kind of testing to every conceivable campaign tactic: door to door canvassing, phone banks, direct mail, robo calls, leaving leaflets at doors, radio, newspaper, and television advertising, emails, and Election Day events. What all these experiments show is that the more personal the approach to mobilizing voters, the better the result.

Door to door canvassing is the most effective way to mobilize voters. When a volunteer makes 14 contacts, they generate one vote for their candidate. Phone calls were also effective but at a lesser rate of one vote for every 38 completed calls. The key to phone call success is enthusiastic volunteers who genuinely believe in their cause and who speak in an unhurried, conversational manner rather than dryly reading a script. A phone bank of paid personnel who treat it as a job is ineffective.

Radio and television adds raised turnout by .8 and .5 percent, respectively. An interesting finding about television ads is that their effectiveness wears off within one week. So once they start airing television ads, campaigns need to keep them on the air until Election Day.

Leaving leaflets at doors was found to have a small effect, generating one vote for every 189 leaflets, but robo calls and partisan direct mail had no discernible effect.

The take away message from this book is volunteers really can make a difference. Republicans can start winning these close elections if they take advantage of the volunteers available to them. The problem for some of these Republican politicians, however, is that this would make them dependent and beholden to their activist base (read Tea Party). Will they be willing to make that concession? Or do Republican voters need to find new politicians?

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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