The Voter Participation Center (VPC) is unique among civic engagement groups because of its reliance on Research & Development. From controlled experiments to measure and improve programmatic effectiveness and cost efficiency to demographic and public opinion surveys, VPC uses a broad array of research instruments to develop and refine its programs and increase the democratic participation of the Rising American Electorate.
To increase voter participation in all aspects of our democracy, VPC uses science — randomized, controlled clinical trials similar to those used in medical research, and a constant feedback loop — experiments to measure, hone and improve programs, models and tactics in real-time. These tests are conducted in-cycle and also evaluated after each cycle to determine what worked — and did not — to produce a net effect (a net additional vote or other activity that would not have happened were it not for VPC’s programs). The VPC has built over 100 randomized trials into its work over the last ten years. The work of the VPC is centered on increasing the voices of the under-represented in a metrics-based approach that ensures accountability and a return on investment for investors and the civic-engagement community at large.
Rigorous evaluations of the VPC’s efforts over the last six cycles have shown constant, exceptional and dramatic increases in its effectiveness and return-on-investment. The VPC’s commitment to research and development has enabled it to continually bend the cost curve on all programs, from voter registration to Get-Out-the-Vote and advocacy efforts. In part, because of this strategic R&D approach, VPC is unique in its ability to cost-effectively reach historically under-represented voters in the RAE through a variety of scalable programs that are not redundant to other outreach efforts.
To increase RAE participation in 2016 and beyond, VPC plans to mobilize the largest number of voters in key states by doing what the VPC does best: by conducting control group tests that result in quantifiable metrics; by learning from and building on the advances made by the state organizations, the Analyst Institute and others while ensuring all new knowledge is shared quickly and broadly; and, by mining the treatment data and survey research the VPC conducts to develop cutting edge models that are available to the community at large.
The work of the VPC is also built on a thorough understanding of the new demographic changes in this country and their implications. Understanding the voting habits, issue concerns, media habits, information levels and collective characteristics of this rapidly emerging, new American majority is key to developing effective registration, turnout and advocacy programs. Knowing, for example, that as a group, the RAE is highly mobile, less likely to register and vote but more likely to support those causes and candidates who share their progressive values is information essential to the crafting of the VPC’s outreach and mobilization efforts.
The VPC is committed to sharing all of what it has learned–and the products and tools that evolve from its research including targeting models, programs, list technology developments, public opinion surveys, messaging guides and mail package designs. In addition, VPC regularly provides the community and lawmakers with the latest and most granular information on the changing nature of America’s demographic makeup as well as the public policy needs of unmarried women and other underrepresented groups.
The VPC is continually releasing new information to the community though reports and memos, conference calls, and most comprehensively, through an annual summit which is held to share the evaluation of programs and the results of in-cycle testing to increase the number of RAE members contacted, registered and turned out and to reduce the cost per net voter of those efforts.