Early Campaign Contact and Voter Turnout in the 2018 Texas State Senate District 6 Special Election
The creation of early in person (EIP) voting periods has been a popular policy implemented by state legislatures seeking to increase voter turnout through decreasing the costs of going to the polls. The efficacy of EIP voting has been questioned in the literature. EIP voting has, however, changed the way in which campaigns are run (Burden et al 2014; Hamel et al 2018). Using individual-level, paid phone-bank call data from the Ana Hernandez campaign for the Texas State Senate District 6 special election held on December 11, 2018 and district-wide voter history data I examine the efficacy of campaign contact under early voting conditions. I find this contact to be ineffective, once vote history is taken into account. A history of voting in the 2018 primary election and 2018 bond elections is a much stronger predictor of turning out in the election studied. This analysis indicates that contacted voters who turned out were more likely self-motivated to vote rather than mobilized through contact, complicating Arceneaux and Nickerson’s (2009) contingency model of campaign contact, which states that high propensity voters are the most cost effective to turn out through campaign contact. These findings have important implications regarding the status quo model of campaign contact currently implemented and how it can be modified to be both more effective in turning out voters in low salience elections.
elections; campaigns; voting; early voting