Text Messages as Mobilization Tools: The Conditional Effect of Habitual Voting and Election Salience

Valenzuela et al. (2011)
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Dale and Strauss’s (DS) noticeable reminder theory (NRT) of voter mobili­zation posits that mobilization efforts that are highly noticeable and salient to potential voters, even if impersonal, can be successful. In an innovative experimental design, DS show that text messages substantially boost turnout, challenging previous claims that social connectedness is the key to increasing participation. we replicate DS’s research design and extend it in two key ways. First, whereas the treatment in DS’s experiment was a “warm” text message combined with contact, we test NRT more cleanly by examining the effect of “cold” text messages that are completely devoid of auxiliary interaction. Second, we test an implication of NRT that habitual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in lower salience elections whereas casual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in higher salience elections. Via these two extensions, we find support for NRT.