Of all the campaign mailers I’ve received this election season, this one may be the most interesting:
It’s paid for by liberal political group MoveOn.org, and it’s an attempt to get people to the polls.
Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, recently wrote about the MoveOn mailer for Slate:
“The mailer’s design marks the latest twist on the political world’s adoption of what behavioral psychologists call “social pressure.” Experiments have shown that letting citizens know that their voting histories are publicly available–and that as a result they can be monitored and judged based on how often they cast a ballot–is the most potent known tool for driving people to the polls. The most effective version of this technique, in which researchers tried to shame non-voters by threatening to out them before their neighbors, was tested in Michigan in 2006 and documented in this paper by Don Green, Alan Gerber, and Chris Larimer. Much of the focus in the GOTV research world in the last several years has focussed on how to channel the psychological power of that threat into something more positive, while still letting non-voters know they’re being watched.”
In this case, our voter is doing a good job compared to his neighbors. No shame, just a little pat on the back and a “keep up the good work.”