Getting out the (swing) vote: evidence from Argentina

Last registered on November 12, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Getting out the (swing) vote: evidence from Argentina
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008510
Initial registration date
November 10, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 12, 2021, 6:09 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Sao Paulo School of Economics - FGV

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
UNLP-University of Nottingham

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-11-15
End date
2022-03-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We test the Pivotal Voter Model in a real-world setting: a mid-term election in Argentina. To manipulate the perception of being more or less pivotal, we send letters to citizens that did not vote in the mandatory primary elections, making more/less salient how relevant their vote could be to change the result of the election. We designed a randomized controlled trial with three arms, each of them consisting of 6,000 citizens. Two treatment arms will receive letters by postal mails, while the control will not receive any letters. The content of the treatment 1 letter will emphasize in a relatively neutral way the importance of voting. The content of the treatment 2 letter will explicitly say that the vote of the individual that received the letter is important to change the result of the election. It will also show a graph indicating that if less than half of the citizens that did not vote in the primary, showed and vote for the opposition candidate, they will win the election. All the letters will be signed by the candidate of the opposition party. Our main outcome is turnout (at the individual level).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Ajzenman, Nicolas and Guillermo Cruces. 2021. "Getting out the (swing) vote: evidence from Argentina." AEA RCT Registry. November 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8510
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We test the Pivotal Voter Model in a real-world setting: a mid-term election in Argentina. To manipulate the perception of being more or less pivotal, we send letters to citizens that did not vote in the mandatory primary elections, making more/less salient how relevant their vote could be to change the result of the election.

We designed a randomized controlled trial with three arms, each of them consisting of 6,000 citizens. The treatment groups will receive letters by postal mails, while the control will not receive any letters.

The content of the treatment 1 letter will emphasize in a relatively neutral way the importance of voting. The content of the treatment 2 letter will explicitly say that the vote of the individual that received the letter is important to change the result of the election. It will also show a graph indicating that if less than half of the citizens that did not vote in the primary, showed and vote for the opposition candidate, they will win the election.

All the letters will be signed by the candidate of the opposition party. Our main outcome is turnout (at the individual level). The elections are for local counselors in the city of Berazategui (Province of Buenos Aires).
Intervention Start Date
2021-11-15
Intervention End Date
2022-03-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Turnout (individual level, count): the citizen voted or not in the mid-term election (November, 2015) in the city of Berazategui.

We plan to analyze heterogeneous results by variables such as location and (presumed) political preference.

Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Turnout: takes a one if the individual voted and zero otherwise (count).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- Vote for Frente de Todos (incumbent):
- Vote for Juntos por el Cambio (opposition, polling booth level, count)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
- Vote for Frente de Todos (incumbent): number of votes (count) for the incumbent party (Juntos por el Cambio) at the polling booth level

- Vote for Juntos por el Cambio (opposition): number of votes (count) for the opposition party at the polling booth level


Experimental Design

Experimental Design
There are 720 polling booths. We divided them into three groups:

Control: 240 booths, 25 individuals per cluster
Treatment 1: 240 booths, 25 individuals per cluster
Treatment 2: 240 booths, 25 individuals per cluster
Total: 720 booths, 18,000 observations in total

The control group does not receive letters. The treatment arms receive letters. In the two arms, the text aims at motivating individuals to vote. Although treatment 2 makes salient the fact that the individual may be pivotal.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
There are two randomization units.
First, we randomized 720 polling booths into three groups:
- Control
- Treatment 1
- Treatment 2

Each polling booth has approximately 70 individuals that did not vote in the primary elections. We randomly selected 25 individuals per booth (out of 70).
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
720 clusters (polling booths)
Sample size: planned number of observations
18,000 in total (6,000 per arm)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 240 clusters, 25 individuals per cluster
Treatment 1: 240 clusters, 25 individuals per cluster
Treatment 2: 240 clusters, 25 individuals per cluster
Total: 720 clusters, 18,000 observations in total
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Power 80%, Confidence 95%, ICC 0.03 and assuming a prevalence of 10% in turnout (that is, 10% of the targeted individuals would vote independently of our intervention), we would be able to detect an effect of 2% of the individuals (0.5 individuals per polling booth).
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials