Personality and getting out the vote

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Benjamin Ross Locklair (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
David McCord

Abstract: Due in large part to the overlapping layers of federal, state, and local governments, the United States holds more elections than any other industrialized democracy in the world. Perhaps as a result, the U.S. also consistently has the lowest voter turnout of these countries. The importance of mobilizing supporters has long been recognized in conventional political wisdom, but until recently relatively little research had been done into which methods are actually effective at getting out the vote. The extant research tends to focus on the methods used to reach voters (e.g., doorto- door canvassing, direct mail, telephone calls, etc.) and has dealt with the message of the GOTV appeals only as an afterthought. As such, while good information is available regarding the efficacy of different modalities, the research on the effect of the GOTV message is often inconclusive. Likewise, political research has only recently begun to consider the role of individual differences, especially personality, as a predictor of political behavior. Traditionally, individual differences have been treated as “noise” in the context of political research. There are indications, however, that far from being noise, individual differences in general, and personality in particular, are vital considerations and effective predictors of civic engagement (Mondak, Hibbing, Canache, Seligson, & Anderson, 2010), partisanship (Mondak & Halperin, 2008), and political orientation (Verhulst, Hatemi, & Martin, 2010) among potential voters. The results of this study reveal that response to some types of GOTV messages can be modeled using variation in personality traits as a predictor. This is consistent with some earlier findings suggesting systematic variation in political behavior and affiliation associated with variation in personality traits. Furthermore, this study reveals that different types of appeal content do indeed differ significantly in their perceived effectiveness. The study has implications for how GOTV campaigns can be conducted in order to differentially benefit candidates of differing ideologies.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
election, GOTV, personality
Voting -- Psychological aspects
Political campaigns -- Psychological aspects
Personality and politics

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