Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 97-113

First online:

Mobilizing the Seldom Voter: Campaign Contact and Effects in High-Profile Elections

  • Janine ParryAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Arkansas Email author 
  • , Jay BarthAffiliated withDepartment of Politics, Hendrix College
  • , Martha KropfAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of North Carolina—Charlotte
  • , E. Terrence JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science and Public Policy Administration, University of Missouri—St. Louis

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Decades of research suggests that campaign contact together with an advantageous socioeconomic profile increases the likelihood of casting a ballot. Measurement and modeling handicaps permit a lingering uncertainty about campaign communication as a source of political mobilization however. Using data from a uniquely detailed telephone survey conducted in a pair of highly competitive 2002 U.S. Senate races, we further investigate who gets contacted, in what form, and with what effect. We conclude that even in high-profile, high-dollar races the most important determinant of voter turnout is vote history, but that holding this variable constant reveals a positive effect for campaign communication among “seldom” voters, registered but rarely active participants who—ironically—are less likely than regular or intermittent voters to receive such communication.


Voter mobilization Voter turnout Voting behavior Campaign effects Campaign contact