By ground or by air? Voter mobilization during the United States’ 2008 presidential campaign
By Laura Sudulich on 16 November 2017
Sarah Niebler, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
Jacob Neiheisel, University of Buffalo, State University of New York
Matthew Holleque, Facebook, San Francisco, CA
This is a summary of the original article plublished in JEPOP. The full article is alalible here
In our article, “By ground or by air? Voter mobilization during the United States’ 2008 presidential campaign” we examine the effects of both television campaign advertising and campaign field offices on aggregate voter turnout during the 2008 US presidential campaign. Our research improves upon previous scholarship in two ways. First, we are able to use observational data of both television ads and field offices, thereby eliminating the challenges of self-reporting that arise when individuals are asked whether they saw campaign ads on television or were contacted by a presidential campaign. Second, we do not just consider whether campaign ads or face-to-face mobilization matters, but instead the relative size of those effects.
Television advertising data from the Wisconsin Advertising Project and data on locations of campaign offices from both 2008 US presidential candidate’s websites increases our ability to test hypotheses concerning the consequences of presidential campaigns for voter turnout in 2008. Our study confirms previous findings that campaign field offices have a positive and statistically significant effect on voter turnout, even controlling for past turnout. Our analysis also finds that television advertising may have an effect on voter turnout, but that relationship is less consistent.
Finally, with respect to the role of campaign field offices in the 2008 US presidential election, we find that only Obama’s offices appear to have had an effect. This suggests that Obama’s ground game was in fact stronger than McCain’s, but future studies should examine the relative efficacy of candidates’ mobilization efforts in different electoral environments.