Gen Election 2017 - Constituency Campaigning at the 2017 General Election

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Social and Political Science

Abstract

Constituency level campaigning has become crucial to the electoral strategies of all the major parties in Britain, and a significant academic literature has emerged (Denver & Hands, 1992,1993,1996,1997a,1997b,1998; Denver et al, 2002a, 2002b, 2003; Fisher et al, 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2009, 2011a, 2011b, 2014a, 2014b; 2016; 2017; Fieldhouse & Cutts, 2009). This work has revealed how campaigns have changed over time; how parties have responded to wider changes in society, the electorate, and within their own parties; the degree to which parties are able to harness their resources effectively to fight elections; how voters respond to cues from the parties, and the extent to which voters can be mobilized. The analysis of the constituency campaign is an integral part of studying elections by the electoral studies community, external stakeholders and the ESRC (Williams, 2007). The ESRC has funded this unique study, which the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, at each general election since 1992 (with the exception of 2005, which was funded at a much lower level by the Electoral Commission). There is therefore a unique and valuable time series which furthers our understanding of the impact, role, and nature of campaigns in the modern political arena. The proposed study will continue this valuable work as well as delivering significant added value.

Planned Impact

With the new data collected, we will produce at least three high-quality journal articles covering the electoral impact of the campaigns, the parties' use of e-campaigning, and comparisons with other elections of the modes of campaigning. We will also produce a report for the Electoral Commission and will combine the data with earlier studies to conduct further analyses over time.
 
Description We can observe the following so far: 1) Labour had a distinct advantage in respect of the number of campaign workers available, having nearly twice that of the Conservatives in marginal seats. This advantage was particularly pertinent on polling day; 2) Of the three main parties Labour engaged in most e-campaigning at constituency level, and were most likely to use social media to mobilize campaign workers; 3) All parties targeted young voters, but Labour did so to the greatest extent; 4) The Conservatives were most likely to run constituency campaigns reflecting the national party's message - especially so in their marginal seats (5-10%). Labour campaigns were more likely to be focused on the candidate's message, though the focus on the national message increased as seats became more marginal; 5) The distribution of campaign intensity reflected the marginality of seats for individual parties - especially the Conservatives; 6) Both Labour and Liberal Democrat campaigns delivered electoral payoffs - significantly so in the case of Labour. The electoral benefits for the Conservatives were extremely limited; 7) While the stronger emphasis on the national party message had limited electoral impact in the case of the Conservatives, Labour campaigns that focussed on candidates more than the national party's message were more electorally effective; 8) Relative electoral unpopularity continued to affect the Liberal Democrats' ability to recruit non-members to assist with campaigns
Exploitation Route We are already working with the parties, having organised a bespoke presentation in October 2017 and presentations at one party's headquarters in November 2017
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description We organised a presentation on our findings (and other ESRC-funded projects) at the Institute for Government in October 2017. The audience included parties, journalists and regulators. The findings will also be used in generating greater understanding of election campaigns at the Electoral Commission A new paper has been drafted, identifying predictors of greater confidence in electoral integrity amongst electoral agents over three elections (2010, 2015, 2017). The paper was sent to the Electoral Commission for comments and has already been presented at an international conference (MPSA 2019). The paper was submitted to an academic journal in April 2019. An invited presentation, entitled "Digital Targeting: Are critics too alarmist?" was made to officials from the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CEDI) and DCMS at the Cabinet Office in March 2019. It was designed to add some empirical insight into the Centre's work on digital targeting. The session went very well, with the Cabinet Office Open Innovation team tweeting that the presentation had delivered much needed perspective. Findings from the presentation are due to be published as a CEDI Think Piece. An invited presentation, entitled "Constituency Campaigning and its Electoral Effects" was made to South Wilts Politics Society at Bishop Wordsworth's School in January 2019. This sparked lively debate with pupils and teachers.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Attitudes of Electoral Agents on the Administration of the 2017 General Election. 
Organisation The Electoral Commission
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Commissioned report to assist the Electoral Commission in the statutory duty to report on the General Election
Collaborator Contribution The questions used in the survey were co-designed with the Electoral Commission. The report produced fed into the Commission statutory reporting
Impact Report published on the Electoral Commission website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/237579/Attitudes-of-electoral-agents-on-the-administration-of-the-2017-UK-Parliament-election-Report.pdf
Start Year 2017
 
Description Campaigning Without Lead Time: The Potential Effects 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an invited presentation delivered at UCL at a post 2017 election event organised by the Constitution Unit
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/constitution-unit-events/ucl-post-election-panel
 
Description Commissioned article on election campaigning for the BBC website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was commissioned to write a headline article for the BBC website on methods of election campaigning during the 2017 campaign. The web article received over 250,000 hits in the first two days
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39779158
 
Description Invited advice to the Ethiopian Electoral Board on campaign and party funding regulation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited advice to the Ethiopian Electoral Board on campaign and party funding regulation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited presentation from the National Democratic Institute and British Embassy in Tirana to a delegation of Albania MPs, regulators, and journalists 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited presentation from the National Democratic Institute and British Embassy in Tirana to a delegation of Albania MPs, regulators, and journalists. The presentation concerned the effective regulation of election campaigns and political finance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Newspaper and Press Coverage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Multiple appearance in both national and international media (TV, Radio, Newspapers, Online) discussing campaign techniques and impacts. Includes: Sky, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, RTE, Daily Telegraph, Norwegian TV, Korean TV, Bloomberg, Associated Press
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
 
Description Presentation at South Wilts Politics Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact An invited presentation, entitled "Constituency Campaigning and its Electoral Effects" was made to South Wilts Politics Society at Bishop Wordsworth's School in January 2019. This sparked lively debate with pupils and teachers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation at the Cabinet Office 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An invited presentation, entitled "Digital Targeting: Are critics too alarmist?" was made to officials from the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and DCMS at the Cabinet Office in March 2019. It was designed to add some empirical insight into the Centre's work on digital targeting. The session went very well, with the Cabinet Office Open Innovation team tweeting that the presentation had delivered much needed perspective
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation for Practioners and Journalists 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A briefing event was organised in conjunction with the Political Studies Association. It was held at the Institute for Government and featured presentation from this and other ESRC funded projects (details below). The event was chaired by Nick Robinson from the BBC and attracted an audience of party practitioners and journalists. The presentations were as follows: Justin Fisher (Brunel University London) The Impact of Constituency Campaigns on the 2017 Election; Paul Webb (University of Sussex) Twice in a Row: Party Members and Campaigning in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections; Annemarie Walter (University of Nottingham) The Unintended Consequences of Negative Campaigning - The General Elections of 2015 and 2017; Cees Van Der Eijk (University of Nottingham) Citizen's Reactions to the Campaign in the General Elections of 2015 and 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.psa.ac.uk/psa/news/election-campaigning-laid-bare
 
Description Presentation on Initial Results to the Conservative Party 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following the event at the Institute of Government, Fisher was invited to deliver a more detailed presentation on constituency campaigning at the 2017 election to the campaign team at Conservative Central Office. The presentation sparked considerable debate and was successful in informing one of our stakeholder parties in respect of both the results of the research and how this stakeholder could potentially collaborate in future research. It should be stressed that the team works with all parties and extends the prospect of further research research with all stakeholder parties.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Witness to the Scottish Parliament Finance and Constitution Committee, Referendums (Scotland) Bill 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Witness to the Scottish Parliament Finance and Constitution Committee, Referendums (Scotland) Bill. In the Committee's final report, Fisher's written and oral evidence was cited some fourteen times, and in three substantive areas highlighted in Fisher's written evidence (referendum spending limits, reforms in respect of the provision of electoral registers to participants, and the need for sufficient time in advance of the referendum to conduct necessary administration), the Committee either supported Fisher's recommendations or recommended they be considered by the Scottish government
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sp-bpr-en-prod-cdnep.azureedge.net/published/FCC/2019/10/31/Stage-1-report-on-the-Referendum...