Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Congratulate Yourself...

...if you volunteered recently for a candidate.  New research just published from Seth Masket shows that Obama's field offices did, in fact, have a small but measurable effect on the vote -- enough that it probably swung Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana. You can read more about it at his blog here, where he concludes:
So, for those of you who volunteered insane hours during the campaign and wondered if what you were doing actually made a difference, it did.
What's nice about this research is that it's pretty objective (Obama either did or didn't have a field office).  Most subjective observers of elections tend to see everything through the lens of the final result -- or, during the campaign, by fluctuations in the polls.  So an ad, a debate performance, or a stump speech are judged to be good if the winner gave them.  Objective studies of elections tend, as Seth notes, to have trouble finding any effects. So it's nice that someone was able to document one.  Now, we're talking about one finding, about one kind of campaign effect, in one particular campaign, but it's still nice to know -- and I think most of us are happy that the data fell as they did.  Most of us would rather, I think, live in a world in which that sort of thing can make a difference.

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