Mark Blumenthal | October 29, 2006
Topics: 2006 , The 2006 Race
Professor Michael P. McDonald, a nationally renowned authority on voter turnout (and an occasional commenter on Pollster.com), had a timely op-ed piece published in today's Washington Post reviewing the academic evidence that debunks "5 Myths About Turning Out the Vote." It's well worth reading in full.
McDonald covered a topic on a lot of minds lately (mine included), the Republicans' vaunted "72-Hour Campaign:"
Republicans supposedly have a super-sophisticated last-minute get-out-the-vote effort that identifies voters who'll be pivotal in electing their candidates. Studies of a campaign's personal contact with voters through phone calls, door-to-door solicitation and the like find that it does have some positive effect on turnout. But people vote for many reasons other than meeting a campaign worker, such as the issues, the closeness of the election and the candidates' likeability. Further, these studies focus on get-out-the-vote drives in low-turnout elections, when contacts from other campaigns and outside groups are minimal. We don't know what the effects of mobilization drives are in highly competitive races in which people are bombarded by media stories, television ads and direct mail.
Also, in 2002 and 2004, the 72-Hour-Campaign also benefited from a political environment and national mood largely favorable to Republicans. Not so this time. We will soon see hether they can work the same magic in a climate like 2006.
Again, McDonald's piece is good summary of academic findings all political junkies should know. Go read it all.