The lost art of door-knocking

Andrew Steele notes new findings in electoral science.

Professors at Yale University studied the impact of three forms of voter communications by campaigns on improved turnout. They used a 30,000 person sample in 1998 for elections in New Haven, Connecticut. The findings are stark: Telephone canvassing has no significant impact on improving voter turnout. Direct mail has only a small impact on improving turnout. The method of communication that most improves turnout — and is the method that can best win your election — is face-to-face canvassing by volunteers.

The team at Yale hypothesizes that the drop in turnout since the 1960s in American politics is due to the decline in political activism and thus a decline in volunteers to knock on doors.

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