Mobilizing the Latino Youth Vote: Some Experimental Results


  • * Direct correspondence to Melissa R. Michelson, Department of Political Science, CSU East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, CA 94542. Data and coding information are available from the author for those wishing to replicate this study. Funding for this research was made possible by a grant from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE). The author thanks Donald P. Green and the editor and anonymous reviewers of Social Science Quarterly for their many helpful comments.


Objectives. The objectives of this article are to test whether Latino canvassers are more effective than non-Latino canvassers at increasing voter turnout among young Latinos, and to test whether young Latinos are more receptive to a mobilization message that stresses ethnic group solidarity or one that emphasizes civic duty.

Methods. A randomized field experiment, conducted in Fresno, California in the fall of 2002, is the basis for the results reported here.

Results. Young Latino voters targeted by Latino canvassers are more likely to be contacted. However, once contacted, Latinos reached by non-Latino canvassers are just as likely to turn out to vote as are those reached by non-Latino canvassers. The mobilization effect is particularly strong among voters who have participated in at least one prior election.

Conclusions. The importance of using Latino canvassers to get out the Latino vote is confirmed, but should not be overemphasized. More importantly, this experiment demonstrates that door-to-door canvassing can have a substantively large and statistically significant effect on turnout among young Latinos, a demographic group often overlooked by parties and campaigns.