Social-pressure mailers back in the news

Since Gerber, Green & Larimer’s 2008 study – among the most widely cited articles in political science since that time – there’s been both academic and practical interest in the sizable turnout impact of mailings using the shaming impact of voter-file information about election participation, both with and without measures to mitigate backlash.

Green & Gerber later warned against the most heavy-handed version of this sort of shaming, noting that though voter-participation data is usually public, that fact isn’t always salient to voters — and that “Your phone will ring off the hook with calls from people demanding an explanation.”

But the heavy-handed versions persist (and not just for fundraising), and controversy follows.  To wit: the campaign mailer in a recent Texas primary runoff:

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