Union Influence on Voter Turnout: Results from Three Los Angeles County Elections
This paper quantitatively examines the effects of political mobilization contacts by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor on voter turnout, using voting records of several thousands of individuals in South Los Angeles over three local elections in 2003 and 2004. Many view Los Angeles as a key example of U.S. labor movement revitalization, with the County Federation’s political acumen considered paramount to the local labor movement’s success. This paper looks at union mobilization efforts across multiple years and highlights the strong ties between the Federation and Latinos. Using logistic regressions, the paper measures the change in voting odds accorded to union contact in each election. The results indicate that all types of union contacts (including personal visits and live phone calls) play a significant and positive role in affecting turnout levels of voters and are particularly influential amongst Latinos, though the finding that personal contacts do not uniformly increase turnout odds more substantially than phone calls runs contrary to recent political science studies.
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