Zatabase: GOTV Scripts and Social Priming by Brad Chism

By at September 13, 2012 | 3:13 pm | Print

Zatabase: GOTV Scripts and Social Priming by Brad Chism

Brad Chism Zata 3

Michigan vs. Columbia.  It’s not a primetime ESPN matchup, but a healthy academic debate over whether voting is essentially an individualistic act or a social act. Our discussion today involves research pursuant to the Columbia School of Voter Mobilization and the concept of “social priming” or the self-activation of social pressure within a voter by asking her to remind others to vote.

The theory is straightforward: if a voter commits to ask friends and family to vote, that person is more likely to vote. This “social priming” prompt individuals to create his own vortex of social pressure by asking his friends and family to vote. This theory may be more attractive to GOTV practitioners than the social pressures created by the reminder that others are monitoring your voter habits and may be calling back after the election.

Finding The Sweet Spot  A University of Miami field experiment in the 2010 general election tested the theory.  The research involved nearly 200,000 voters in 2010 in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania and tested different GOTV scripts for the greatest impact on voter turnout.  Asking voters at the end of a GOTV script to remind one person had a positive but not statistically significant effect. Asking voters to remind three of their friends and family to vote had a larger and statistically significant impact. But those voters who were asked to remind five of their friends and family to vote had no discernible effect on voter turnout. (Click here for a link to the research by Dr. Mann and Dr. Klofstad).

Why Three People and Not Five? The researchers suggest that at some point the voter says “it’s too much hassle” and that the larger the number of “friends and family” one is asked to appeal to, the more likely that one of them wont have the same political beliefs.

Lessons for GOTV Scripting.  If you prefer the social priming theory to the more direct social pressure (we know how you voted and are watching you this fall…) then this simple question at the end of the call can bump up your productivity. “Can we ask you to remind three friends and family members to vote on Tuesday? ”

Brad Chism, Partner and Senior Strategist of Zata|3 Consulting. Zata|3 helps elect Democrats and advance progressive causes by integrating telephone voter contact programs with a campaign’s other messaging. Zata|3 offers a full range of automated and live calling programs, from the initial ID call to the final GOTV message. Other services to reach your targeted voters include: SMS (text) messaging, Zata|Forum™ Telephone Town Halls, Zata|Pulse® Interactive Automated Surveys, and, coming soon, web-based Zata|Live™ Video Forum Town Halls.

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