Wong 2005 - GOTV Phone Calls and Mail to Asian Americans
In-language calls and English or bilingual direct mail are found to increase voter turnout among Asian Americans.
Wong, Janelle S. 2005. "Mobilizing Asian American Voters: A Field Experiment." The Science of Voter Mobilization. Special Editors Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. vol. 601: 102-114.
Janelle Wong examines the effects of mobilization on political participation among Asian Americans with an experiment designed to assess the extent to which GOTV telephone calls and mail increase voter turnout among Asian Americans who live in high-density Asian American areas in Los Angeles County. Prior to the November 5, 2002, elections, Wong, in conjunction with partner CAUSE-Vision21 (Chinese Americans United for Self Empowerment/Vision21), conducted a randomized voter mobilization field experiment in which lists of registered Asian Americans (Chinese, Korean, Indian, Filipino, and Japanese) were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. A few days before Election Day, the treatment group received a phone call or postcard encouraging them to vote. After the election, voter turnout records were reviewed to compare turnout rates for the treatment and control groups. Multivariate analysis shows that telephone calls and mail increase voter turnout for Asian Americans.
Electoral Context: The experiment was conducted during the November 2002 election in Los Angeles County.
Subject Population: The sample consisted of Asian Americans who live in high-density Asian American areas of Los Angeles County. An up-to-date list of registered Asian American voters was obtained from a vendor. The list includes name, address, telephone number, voter identification number, date of registration, voter history, language of original voter registration card, and age. Voters were registered in Los Angeles County and were residents of high-density Asian American zip codes in Monterey Park, Alhambra, Walnut, Diamond Bar, Torrance, Gardena, and Artesia.
Randomization Procedure: Lists of individual registered Asian Americans (Chinese, Korean, Indian, Filipino, and Japanese) were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Treatment group I received phone calls and Treatment group II received mailings. The control group was not contacted.
Treatment: Volunteers were either USC students or students working at CAUSE-Vision21.3 There were fifty-six volunteers working on the project, including forty-nine Asian American students. Thirty-four volunteers were bilingual in English and an Asian language. Each volunteer received two hours of training, and the get-out-the-vote phone campaign was monitored at all times by the director of the project. Calls were made in-language (Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Japanese, Hindi) or in English. Because they tend to include a higher proportion of English speakers compared to other Asian American groups in the study, some small proportion of the Filipino, Indian, and Japanese registered voters were contacted by volunteers who spoke English only. Chinese and Korean registered voters were contacted by bilingual speakers only.
Three attempts to contact subjects by phone were made in the ten days leading up to the election from 10 AM to 8 PM on weekends and 4:30 PM to 8 PM on weekdays. Callers introduced themselves as volunteers calling on behalf of an Asian American non-profit organization and reminded subjects to vote on November 5. On the third attempt to contact by phone, volunteers were instructed to leave a message with a person or on an answering machine if possible. Messages left on machines were left in both English and an Asian language unless it was clear from the message on the machine that the resident was an English speaker.
Due to cost limitations, only the Chinese sample received a bilingual mailing; other groups received the mailing in English only.
Thirty-six percent of those assigned to treatment group I were successfully contacted by phone. While there was no way to confirm delivery of the mailers, contact was determined to be successful if the mailer was not returned. Only eighty-six mailers were returned.
Findings: Wong's findings indicate that phone and mail contact have a modest positive effect on turnout among Asian Americans. Using two-stage least squares regression and controlling for demographic variables as well as past turnout and partisan affiliation, Wong finds that person-to-person calls reminding Asian Americans to vote on Election Day increase the probability of turnout by 2.9 percentage points (standard error: 2.1 percentage points) and postcard reminders increased the probability of turnout by 1.7 percentage points (standard error: 0.9 percentage points).