Ring out the vote

Author: John Monczunski


So your cell phone makes that funny little noise announcing an incoming text message, but when you flip to the screen: Surprise! It’s not your BFF Mary saying “hi 2 u” but some politician saying “vote 4 me.”

Welcome to Politics: The Next Generation. Text messaging is among the new methods gaining popularity with campaign organizations as they try to influence young voters, says David Nickerson, Notre Dame assistant professor of political science.

Nickerson, who studies voter mobilization, says political parties are continually seeking new ways to reach voters as traditional tactics lose effectiveness with overuse. For instance, he notes that phone surveys are much less effective today than they once were. “In the 1950s response rates were commonly in the 50–60 percent range,” Nickerson says. “Now if you get a rate in the teens, it’s considered good.”

Today, “If the campaigns are able to get the cell numbers, they appear to be fairly effective in reaching young people,” the professor says.