The Interactive Effects of Labor-Led Political Mobilization and Vote Propensity on Turnout: Evidence from Five Elections



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       The author’s affiliation is People, Management and Organisations Division, Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PB, U.K. E-mail: The author wishes to thank David Lipsky for his constant support and assistance in this endeavor amongst many others. He would also like to thank Patrick Gunnigle for his extremely helpful comments on an early draft of the paper, and the anonymous referees for their excellent advice regarding the manuscript. The author also thanks Larry Frank, Anne Kamsvaag, and Anthony Thigpenn for providing the data. He is tremendously grateful to James W. Lamare and Jessye Wojtusik for their enduring patience and encouragement in all his efforts. Finally, he owes a great deal of gratitude to the University of Limerick, where the first drafts of the paper were written. Requests for further information about the data, including detailed tables and other materials, may be obtained by e-mailing the author at


The concept of unions as political mobilization groups is not well documented relative to the general determinants of voting behavior and labor’s traditional political roles. Specifically, scholars have yet to study the interaction between individuals’ propensities to vote and labor-led mobilization. Does labor have a stronger influence on frequent, occasional, or non-voters? Using data totaling 188,551 individuals in Los Angeles over five elections, this paper empirically studies the interaction between vote propensity and mobilization, finding that occasional voters are generally most receptive to labor’s efforts, particularly amongst Latinos, and that personal visits and phone calls are successful for occasional voters.