Each election cycle, voters brace themselves for an onslaught of stories, campaign ads, and direct mailings. However, a new report released by the American National Election Studies (ANES) shows that the intensity of direct voter contact we perceive is, in fact, overstated.

In examining electorate mobilization, ANES polled citizens, asking: “Did anyone from one of the political parties call you up or come around and talk to you about the campaign?” And year after year, the majority answered with a resounding “No.”

The highest percentage of contact came in 2004, when 43% of Americans were contacted by a major party. The graph below compares the percentage of people that said a major party did or did not contact them in the specified year. (The graph was created using this data.)

ANES data also revealed that in midterm election cycles, an average of only 27% of Americans were contacted by either party. Assuming trends continue, an abysmally low number of eligible voters will be contacted this year before November 2.

Interestingly, research also shows that the most effective way to engage voters and increase turnout is through direct contact. With the political space left unoccupied by the major parties, there is a great deal nonprofits can do to reach out to their communities. And with a number of hotly contested ballot measures–that could greatly impact nonprofits–there is also incentive for them to do so.

To read the results of other questions in the ANES survey, click here.

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