The Mobilization Solution? Face-to-Face Contact and Voter Turnout in a Municipal Election


David Niven is associate professor of political science, Florida Atlanic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (


In the ongoing quest to understand and potentially improve voter turnout, many analysts have focused their attention on political mobilization effects. Some scholars suggest that the failure to engage in widespread personal mobilization efforts has contributed to declining turnout and that a recommitment to mobilization by parties, candidates, and others would reverse the trend. This research explores the effects of face-to-face mobilization efforts in select precincts in a 2001 Boynton Beach, Florida municipal election. Controlling for their past voting history, the face-to-face mobilization effort did increase turnout by about five points. The results suggest that face-to-face mobilization efforts increase turnout—at a huge cost in hours worked—but do so mostly by encouraging intermittent voters to go to the polls.