, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 335-350

The Limits of Mobilization: Turnout Evidence from State House Primaries

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Abstract

Many analysts have lamented the decline of political mobilization efforts. They suggest that the cause of worsening voter turnout may be traceable to the failure of political candidates and political parties to target and activate nonvoters. This research explores the effects of face-to-face mobilization efforts in a sample of September 5, 2000, Florida state house primary races. Controlling for their voting history, the face-to-face mobilization effort did increase turnout by about 8% among those contacted. However, the effects were weakest among those who voted least regularly. The results suggest that implementing more face-to-face mobilization efforts would increase turnout—mostly by encouraging occasional voters to go to the polls. However, those same mobilization efforts would not substantially affect the turnout of chronic nonvoters.