Is all campaigning equally positive? The impact of district level campaigning on voter turnout at the 2010 British general election

Justin Fisher, Edward Fieldhouse, Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie, David Cutts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Comparative literature suggests that campaigning efforts impact positively, both in terms of mobilization and turnout. Effects are not uniform. They may be affected by the electoral system, the electoral circumstances and the effectiveness of party management. Studies of district level (constituency) campaigning in Britain have identified two important trends. First, that effective targeting is a core component of a successful district campaign strategy and that parties have become better at targeting resources. However, a question has arisen as to whether increasingly ruthless partisan targeting by parties could have detrimental effects on overall levels of turnout. Second, they have shown how campaign techniques are continuously being modernized but that more traditional labour-intensive campaigning tends to produce stronger electoral payoffs. This article considers three questions in respect of the impact of district level campaigns on turnout: whether the combined campaign efforts of the three principal parties in Britain are associated with higher levels of turnout; whether the different campaigning styles of parties affect levels of turnout equally; and whether the campaigning efforts of different parties have differential effects on turnout and whether intense partisan targeting impacts upon turnout overall. We show that while campaigning boosts turnout, the impact varies by campaign technique and by party.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-226
Number of pages12
JournalParty Politics
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date28 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Britain
  • constituency campaigning
  • elections
  • political parties
  • turnout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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