April 2012: Tobin Project Graduate Fellow Vincent Pons featured in New York Times for work on French presidential campaign
Tobin Project graduate fellow Vincent Pons (MIT, Economics) has been featured in the New York Times, the Financial Times, Slate, and NBC for his elections research and work on François Hollande's presidential campaign in France. Along with Arthur Muller and Guillaume Liegey, two other French students who studied in the U.S., Vincent initiated a research project in 2010 to compare different voter registration interventions and their effectiveness in mobilizing unregistered voters to participate. With support from the Tobin Project's Democracy & Markets fellowship program, the research project initially focused on regional elections and with promising results in that round, the three students suggested conducting a similar experiment during the then-upcoming presidential race.
With the experiment still ongoing, the group was hired by France's Socialist party to conduct a large-scale canvassing campaign for presidential hopeful François Hollande based on their findings. Modeled on President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign to "get out the vote," the project has enlisted over 70,000 volunteers to knock on doors and help citizens, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, get information and register to vote for the country's next president. In total, canvassers have knocked at more than five-million doors across France.
The students' initial voter registration experiment was supported by a 2011 Democracy & Markets fellowship from the Tobin Project. Vincent, who has been participating in Tobin's graduate student forum series for the last two years, and his co-researchers received continued support from the Tobin Project's graduate student initiative this year, as they take their experiment to the scale of a presidential race.