The Role of Call Quality in Voter Mobilization: Implications for Electoral Outcomes and Experimental Design
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- Mann, C.B. & Klofstad, C.A. Polit Behav (2015) 37: 135. doi:10.1007/s11109-013-9264-y
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We demonstrate the centrality of high quality personal interactions for successfully overcoming the collective action problem of voter mobilization, and highlight the need for attention to treatment quality before making substantive inferences from field experiments. We exploit natural variation in the quality of voter mobilization phone calls across call centers to examine how call quality affects voter mobilization in a large-scale field experiment conducted during the 2010 Election. High quality calls (from call centers specializing in calling related to politics) produced significant increases in turnout. In contrast, low quality calls (from multi-purpose commercial call centers) failed to increase turnout. Furthermore, we offer caution about using higher contact rates as an indication of delivery quality. Our treatment conditions with higher contact rates had no impact on turnout, suggesting an unfavorable trade-off between quantity of contacts and call quality.