Turn Up the Vote, Turned Out the Vote for GOTV 2014
Texans Together’s non-partisan, grassroots voter network in 2014 was again a huge success. As in 2012, our organizers and grassroots leaders went door-to-door in low-propensity voting areas where Texans Together is engaging communities and developing grassroots leaders.
Texans Together’s organizers and grassroots volunteers targeted 32,595 low propensity voting minorities (defined as African-Americans and Hispanics who voted in the November 2012 presidential election but not in the November 2010 election). We canvassed door-to-door in four Houston lower income, minority areas: Alief, Fondren Southwest, South Park, and Independence Heights. We talked at length to voters about the importance of voting for their community and families, and we asked them to sign a pledge card to vote. We then mailed the pledge cards back to them before early voting and called several times to remind them of their pledge. We sent no other mail to them, unlike a standard canvass that may send 6 mail pieces.
In these four areas, low-propensity voters we attempted to contact, but did not contact voted at only 24.38%. This is substantially below the overall Harris County turnout rate of 33.65%. However, the low-propensity voters whom we contacted and who signed pledge cards to vote turned out to vote at 40.47%. This voter turnout rate is 65% greater than that of their low-propensity neighbors whom we didn’t reach. Not surprisingly, our best results were in Alief, where we have been engaged in community organizing for the longest time of any area worked.
The standard turnout increase nationally from contact from a paid canvass is 7 to 11%, according to Professors Gerber and Green in their book, Get Out the Vote. Unfortunately, overall turnout was very low in Texas and in lower-income communities in Harris County. Texas’ turnout was the second worst in the country, ahead of only Indiana (according to the U.S. Election Project). Harris County’s overall turnout rate was average for Texas, but some of its lower-income state house districts had very poor turnout. For example, turnout in Texas HD144 (Pasadena) was 22.32% and in Texas HD140 (Aldine) was 20.35%.
We know year-round grassroots leadership development and community organizing works. It empowers lower income residents, improves their communities and increases their propensity to vote.