In the Big Data world, a small experiment can have a big impact. Stanford University political scientists Adam Bonica and Jonathan Rodden, and Dartmouth’s Kyle Dropp designed a Big Data experiment to test whether information on the ideological preferences of judicial candidates would influence voter turnout in nonpartisan judicial elections. With funding from the Hewlett Foundation and Stanford University, the researchers designed a “Voter Information Guide” that was sent to 100,000 registered voters in Montana about two state Supreme Court elections. The mailer ranked the ideological leanings of the four judicial candidates on a liberal-conservative continuum and it included a state seal.
Politicians and state officials were upset, and there are New York Times reporter Derek Willis found “concerns that the blowback might hamper field research for political science.”
Should this research have been allowed? You can read more about it in the October 30, 2014 New York Times article: