Burgers and Ballots

by Julia M. Klein
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“The buyer’s illusion is that something that’s really, really cheap is going to be cost-effective,” says Green.

Not so.

The New Haven study and subsequent experiments, using control groups and other groups of voters that received different combinations of campaign “interventions,” found that door-to-door canvassing is particularly effective. So are volunteer calls. Direct mail has a minor effect. Commercial phone banks are a waste of money.

And those dreaded robocalls? “I have not seen any evidence suggesting that robocalls of any conventional sort are effective at mobilizing or persuading," Green says.

Green notes that attempts in recent years to make voting easier through such innovations as early voting and Election Day registration did not cause turnout to “immediately surge.” By the same token, he does not believe that requiring ID to vote will be “much of an impediment” to turnout. That’s because “the problem is not the cost of voting,” Green says, “but the motivation to vote.”

Motivation? As supplied by hamburgers and cotton candy?

“Our parties were not the greatest parties,” Green says. “But they still managed to bump up turnout.”

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