[gov3009-l] Voter Mobilization and Field Experiments

Anders Schwartz Corr corr@fas.harvard.edu
Tue, 24 Sep 2002 18:25:04 -0400 (EDT)

"The importance of statistical methodology for analyzing data from field
experimentation: Evaluating voter mobilization strategies" by Kosuke Imai
(Government, Harvard University)

The first presentation of the Research Workshop in Applied Statistics
will be held on Wednesday 9/25 at noon, CBRSS Rm. 22. Lunch will be
served. The paper may be accessed at:



Field experimentation is making its way back into the toolkit of political
scientists. Gerber and Green have led this important methodological
development that is likely to improve causal inferences in political
science research. However, they believe that field experiments only
require "rudimentary data analysis." Countering this claim, I use Gerber
and Green's voter mobilization data (2000) to show that statistical
methods are essential to address complications that invariably arise in
field experiments. I demonstrate how incomplete randomization of treatment
assignment led to the authors' puzzling finding that get-out-the-vote
calls discourage voters from going to the polls, reducing turnout by 5
percent. An application of matching, which is more appropriate given the
incomplete randomization, reveals that telephone canvassing increases
turnout by about 5 percent. My analysis also finds that mail canvassing is
a signficant cost-effective alternative, and that appeals related to civic
engagement are more effective than the original analysis indicated.

Contact: corr@fas.harvard.edu