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Campaign Consultants

The most effective methodology to get-out-the-vote for elections is door-to-door canvassing and the second most effective method is to have passionate and informed volunteers make personalized calls to registered voters.  Despite this, these Precinct Organizing methodologies are no longer much pursued by parties since parties want centralized control of campaign resources and the message. Additionally, campaign consultants profit more with brokered mass media, phone banks, and direct mail. Nevertheless, Organizing for America did pursue limited Precinct Organizing for the 2008 election with much success and with particular focus on registering new Democratic voters, much of it via outsourcing to ACORN.

Campaign managers are able to protect their reputation by employing well-accepted, profitable, but inefficient campaign tactics since everyone is doing it and someone has to win the election. But, just because everyone is doing it does not mean that it works. Relevant key findings based on statistical analyses are as follows:

  • Experts rarely measure effectiveness
  • Experts may report speculations in the guise of “findings”, which should be suspect
  • Seasoned campaign veterans know a great deal about the inputs, but they seldom possess reliable information about outputs
  • Publications tend to play up what works in getting out the vote, since not likely to report studies which show no effect – known as “publication bias”
  • Research debunks claims of synergy  for varying campaign tactics
  • It’s more difficult to study voter choice than voter turnout.
  • Only randomized experiments with randomized assignments assure fair comparisons – flip coin to decide who receives treatment
    • Rare in politics, as are successful third party candidates
    • Voting is measured by examining public records, not by asking people whether they voted
    • Subject voting rates to statistical analyses & replicate experiment in other times and places

Actual, statistically based determinations of campaign effectiveness for various candidate or issue get-out-the-vote tactics are: (Assumes that voters are not already passionately engaged in the political process as they are now with the threat to their liberties by an ever larger government and assault on free markets.)

  • Door-to-door canvassing – 1 vote gained per 14 contacts ( assumes a normal 50% voting rate)
  • Volunteer phone-bank – 1 vote per 38 contacts ( Talented volunteers or calls within last week prior to elections can increase success rate to 1 vote per 20 completed calls)
  • Professional phone bank – 1 vote per 180 calls
  • Leaflets – 1 vote per 189 voters
  • Direct mail – 1 vote per 333 pieces of mail sent
  • Robo-calls – 1 vote per 1000 calls
  • Mass media – 1-2%, but can’t rule out the that the effects are zero (Low cost/ vote ratio due to broad reach and relative low cost for media, but actual total mobilized voters are low. Most media research relies on surveys, which is flawed.)
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