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The Importance of Live Voter Contact: 1 in 12 people will vote for you

1 in 12 people you talk to will vote for you.

Speaking face-to-face with 12 voters while walking door-to-door results in one vote for your candidate, according to studies analyzing local campaigns done by three Yale professors. This includes those who have never heard of you or your candidate before. Let that sink in: if you speak with 1200 voters, 100 will vote for you. Gerber and Green’s Yale studies reveal that authentic person-to-person contact reaps the best results, and door-to-door canvassing is the most efficient and effective method of voter contact.

Reflective of many local campaigns, this summer’s House of Delegate primaries in our district in Western Loudoun County resulted in a win by a 758-vote lead with just over than 5,100 ballots cast. Every vote counts, especially at the local level. Despite the ever-increasing methods to reach people with your message, campaign victory comes back to the core of politics: people connecting with people. It makes sense that a personal connection will reap results, but what do the statistics say?

We’ve dug into Gerber and Green’s Yale studies and think their findings, considered a bedrock for many recent GOTV studies, reveal helpful statistics to keep in mind:

  • Face-to-face canvassing raises turnout rates from approximately 44 percent to 53 percent: “A personal approach to mobilizing voters is usually more successful than an impersonal approach.”
  • In-person canvass yielded turnout 9.8 percent higher than for voters who were not contacted. Each piece of mail led to a turnout increase of only 0.6 percent.
  • Robocalls may give a tiny nudge to vast numbers of people. But local campaigns would be better off leaving the automated messages alone: “If your constituency does not have vast numbers of people, these tactics might be useless to you – even if they were free!”
  • As mentioned previously, 12 successful face-to-face contacts translate into one additional vote.

Gerber and Green conclude that “the more personal the interaction between campaign and potential voter, the more it raises a person’s chances of voting.” Thankfully, data analytics is about personalizing a campaign and campaigns are becoming more adept at establishing meaningful connections with targeted voters.