Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 327–346 | Cite as

Radio Public Service Announcements and Voter Participation Among Native Americans: Evidence from Two Field Experiments

  • Eline A. de Rooij
  • Donald P. GreenEmail author
Original Paper


Although similar to other U.S. minorities in terms of socio-economic status and political interest, Native Americans are more dispersed geographically and much less likely to vote. This pattern suggests that at least part of the disparity in turnout might be due to Native Americans’ lower exposure to statewide and national mobilization campaigns. To test this idea, a randomized experiment was conducted in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a radio campaign that encouraged Native Americans to vote. In 2008 and 2010, experiments were conducted across a total of 85 radio markets spanning more than a dozen states. Results suggest that this nonpartisan radio campaign increased turnout among registered Native American voters in both elections, although the estimated effects fall short of conventional levels of statistical significance.


Turnout Elections Mobilization Mass media 



The authors are grateful to Thea Lawton, who helped coordinate the Koahnic outreach campaign, and to Peter Aronow, Alexander Coppock, James Gimpel, and Amber Spry, who provided technical assistance and offered helpful suggestions. We thank the Carnegie Corporation, which funded this research, and Catalist, which provided the voter files used to assess voter turnout.

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9358_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (271 kb)
Supplementary Material 1 (PDF 271 kb)


  1. Annenberg Public Policy Center. (2008). National Annenberg Election Survey, National Rolling Cross-Section, 2004. Philadelphia, PA: Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved January 2010 from
  2. Ansolabehere, S., & Iyengar, S. (1995). Going negative: How political advertisements shrink & polarize the electorate. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  3. Aronow, P. M., & Miller, B. T. (2015). Theory of agnostic statistics. Book manuscript: Yale University.Google Scholar
  4. Bedolla, L. G., & Michelson, M. R. (2012). Mobilizing inclusion: Transforming the electorate through get-out-the-vote campaigns. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bobo, L., & Gilliam, F. D, Jr. (1990). Race, sociopolitical participation, and black empowerment. American Political Science Review, 84(2), 377–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brady, H. E., Verba, S., & Schlozman, K. L. (1995). Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. American Political Science Review, 89(2), 271–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Clymer, A., & Falk, E. (2004). A polling microscope: The National Annenberg Election Survey measures opinions of groups too small for any other poll to see clearly (Asians, Native Americans, and sub-groups of Latinos). Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved Sept 27, 2013, from
  9. DellaVigna, S., Enikolopov, R., Mironova, V., Petrova, M., & Zhuravskaya, E. (2014). Cross-border media and nationalism: Evidence from Serbian Radio in Croatia. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 6(3), 103–132.Google Scholar
  10. Druckman, J. N., Green, D. P., Kuklinski, J. H., & Lupia, A. (2006). The growth and development of experimental research in political science. American Political Science Review, 100(4), 627–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Engstrom, R. L., & Barrilleaux, C. J. (1991). Native Americans and cumulative voting: The Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux. Social Science Quarterly, 72(2), 388–393.Google Scholar
  12. Ferraz, C., & Finan, F. (2008). Exposing corrupt politicians: The effects of Brazil’s publicly released audits on electoral outcomes. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2), 703–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gaines, B. J., Kuklinski, J. H., & Quirk, P. J. (2007). The logic of the survey experiment reexamined. Political Analysis, 15(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gerber, A. S., & Green, D. P. (2012). Field experiments: Design, analysis and interpretation. New York: WW Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Green, D. P., & Gerber, A. S. (2015). Get out the vote: How to increase voter turnout (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  16. Green, D. P., McGrath, M. C., & Aronow, P. M. (2013). Field experiments and the study of voter turnout. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 23(1), 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Green, D. P. & Vasudevan, S. (2015). Diminishing the effectiveness of vote-buying: Evidence from a large-scale radio experiment in India. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  18. Green, D. P., & Vavreck, L. (2008). Analysis of cluster-randomized experiments: A comparison of alternative estimation approaches. Political Analysis, 16(2), 138–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harell, A., Panagos, D., & Matthews, J. S. (2013). Explaining aboriginal turnout in federal elections: Evidence from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In J. P. White, J. Peters, D. Beavon, & P. Tinsdale (Eds.), Aboriginal policy research. Voting, governance and research methodology (Vol. 10, pp. 3–24). Toronto: Thomson Educational Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Hersh, E. D. (2015). Hacking the electorate: How campaigns perceive voters. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hovland, C. I., Lumsdaine, A. A., & Sheffield, F. D. (1949). Experiments on mass communication: Studies in social psychology in World War II (Vol. III). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Iyengar, S., Peters, M. D., & Kinder, D. R. (1982). Experimental demonstrations of the “not-so-minimal” consequences of television news programs. American Political Science Review, 76(4), 848–858.Google Scholar
  23. Karp, J. A., & Banducci, S. A. (2007). Party mobilization and political participation in new and old democracies. Party Politics, 13(2), 217–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ladner, K. L., & McCrossan, M. (2007). The electoral participation of aboriginal people. Part of the Working Paper Series on Electoral Participation and Outreach Practices. Ottawa, ON: Elections Canada.Google Scholar
  25. Lehman, R., & The First American Education Project. (2005). Native Vote 2004: A national survey and analysis of efforts to increase the Native vote in 2004 and the results achieved. Olympia, WA: First American Education Project.Google Scholar
  26. Leighley, J. E., & Nagler, J. (2014). Who votes now? Demographics, issues, inequality, and turnout in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Levo-Henriksson, R. (2007). Media and ethnic identity: Hopi views on media, identity, and communication. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Lewis-Beck, M. S., Jacoby, W. G., Norpoth, H., & Weisberg, H. F. (2008). The American voter revisited. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Matland, R. E., & Murray, G. R. (2012). An experimental test of mobilization effects in a Latino Community. Political Research Quarterly, 65(1), 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Matsaganis, M. D., Katz, V. S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2011). Understanding ethnic media: Producers, consumers, and societies. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. McCool, D. (1985). Indian voting. In V. Deloria Jr. (Ed.), American Indian policy in the twentieth century (pp. 105–133). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  32. McCool, D., Olson, S. M., & Robinson, J. L. (2007). Native vote: American Indians, the voting rights act, and the right to vote. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McDonald, L. (1989). Symposium: The state of the union: Civil rights: The quiet revolution in minority voting rights. Vanderbilt Law Review, 42, 1249–1296.Google Scholar
  34. McDonald, L. (1995). The counterrevolution in minority voting rights. Mississippi Law Journal, 65, 271–313.Google Scholar
  35. McDonald, L. (2010). American Indians and the fight for equal voting rights. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  36. McFarland, D. A., & Thomas, R. J. (2006). Bowling young: How youth voluntary associations influence adult political participation. American Sociological Review, 71(3), 401–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Michelson, M. R. (2003). Getting out the Latino vote: How door-to-door canvassing influences voter turnout in rural central California. Political Behavior, 25(3), 247–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Michelson, M. R. (2005). Meeting the challenge of Latino voter mobilization. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 601(1), 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Milbrath, L. W., & Goel, M. L. (1977). Political participation: How and why do people get involved in politics? (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally College Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  40. Min, J., & Savage, D. (2012). The influence of socio-economic characteristics on the political attitudes of American Indians. The Social Science Journal, 49(4), 494–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Min, J., & Savage, D. (2014). Why do American Indians vote democratic? The Social Science Journal, 51(2), 167–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Paluck, E. L., & Green, D. P. (2009). Deference, dissent, and dispute resolution: An experimental intervention using mass media to change norms and behavior in Rwanda. American Political Science Review, 103(4), 622–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Panagopoulos, C., & Green, D. P. (2008). Field experiments testing the impact of radio advertisements on electoral competition. American Journal of Political Science, 52(1), 156–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Panagopoulos, C., & Green, D. P. (2011). Spanish-language radio advertisements and Latino voter turnout in the 2006 congressional elections: Field experimental evidence. Political Research Quarterly, 64(3), 588–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Peterson, G. (1997). Native American turnout in the 1990 and 1992 elections. American Indian Quarterly, 21(2), 321–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. (2009). The state of the news media: An annual report on American journalism. Retrieved December 4, 2015 from
  47. Phelps, G. A. (1991). Mr. Gerry goes to Arizona: Electoral geography and voting rights in Navajo Country. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 15(2), 63–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Piven, F. Fox, & Cloward, R. A. (2000). Why Americans still don’t vote: And why politicians want it that way. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  49. Rahn, W. M., & Rudolph, T. J. (2005). A tale of political trust in American Cities. Public Opinion Quarterly, 69(4), 530–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rosenstone, S. J., & Hansen, J. M. (1993). Mobilization, participation, and democracy in America. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  51. Svingen, O. J. (1987). Jim Crow, Indian style. American Indian Quarterly, 11(4), 275–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tate, K. (1991). Black political participation in the 1984 and 1988 presidential elections. American Political Science Review, 85(4), 1159–1176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. United States Census Bureau. (2000). Decennial Census 2000 Summary File 1. Retrieved June 2009 from
  54. United States Census Bureau. (2012a). The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2015 from
  55. United States Census Bureau. (2012b). Current Population Survey, November 2012, Voting and Registration Supplement. Retrieved July 13, 2015 from
  56. United States Federal Communications Commission. (2008). GIS Licensing Database for FM Radio. Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved Nov 2009, from
  57. United States Federal Communications Commission. (2010). GIS Licensing Database for FM Radio. Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved Aug 2010, from
  58. Valenzuela, A. A. & Michelson, M. R. (2014). Turnout, status and identity: Mobilizing Latinos to vote with group appeals. Unpublished manuscript: Princeton University, Department of Politics and Program in Latino Studies.Google Scholar
  59. Verba, S., & Nie, N. H. (1972). Participation in America: Political democracy and social equality. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  60. Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L., & Brady, H. E. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Wakefield, M. A., Loken, B., & Hornik, R. C. (2010). Use of mass media campaigns to change health behaviour. Lancet, 376(9748), 1261–1271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wang, T. (2012). Ensuring Access to the ballot for American Indians & Alaska Natives: New solutions to strengthen American democracy. New York: Demos. Retrieved July 24, 2015 from
  63. Wattenberg, M. P. (2002). Where have all the voters gone?. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Wilkins, D. E., & Stark, H. K. (2010). American Indian politics and the American political system (3rd ed.). New York: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  65. Wolfinger, R. E., & Rosenstone, S. J. (1980). Who votes?. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Wolfley, J. (1991). Jim Crow, Indian style: The disenfranchisement of Native Americans. American Indian Law Review, 16(1), 167–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations