KEY QUESTIONS• What are the factors behind voting behaviour?• Assess the effect of election campaigns and opinion polls on the outcomes of general elections.• What role do the media play in winning or losing elections?• How important is social class in voting behaviour?
Models of VB• Party Identification• Social Structures• Rational Choice• Issue Voting• Party Leadership• Tactical Voting
Influences on VB• Election Campaigns• Opinion Polls• The Media• Apathy
General Election Case Studies• 1979 – Mrs Thatcher kicks 18 years of Tory rule• 1997 – Mr Blair returns Labour to power with a historic landslide• 2001 – A low point for democracy!• 2005 – A victory for who?• 2010 – a new way to do politics.
Voting Behaviour & Turnout• Turnout used to be 75% for GE’s• Turnout at LE’s is much lower• 18-25 year olds arent registering to vote• Turnout – 1997 71% – 2001 59% – 2005 61% – 2010 65%
Tumbling Turnout• Apathy• Changing fabric of community• Refusal to vote• Party dealignment• Class dealignment• Abandonment of party ideology• No choice between parties• Campaigns focus on wrong issues• Media overkill• Opinion polls• Weather
Why do people vote the way• they do? party? The Party Is it because people identify with a particular Identification Model• Is it because people’s voting habits are shaped by social factors? The Social Structures Model• Is it because people make rational choices? The Rational Choice Model• Is it because modern politics is dominated by a dominant ideology? The Dominant Ideology Model• When people don’t vote, is it Apathy?• What is Tactical Voting? ‘Vote Local!’
The Social Structures ModelThe basis argument here is that voting habits are influenced by a varietyof social structures and factors. These include -CLASS RELIGION OCCUPATION GENDER REGION & GEOGRAPHY ETHNICITY AGE
Social Class• Electorate divided into A, B, C1, C2, D & E’s • A, B, C1 = Conservative Voters • C2, D, E = Labour Voters• Model dominated political thinking in 1960’s and 70’s• Class dealignment• Emergence of New Working Class
Social Class “Class is the basis of British partypolitics; all else is embellishment and detail” Pulzer 1975 http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/collections/p007jyx1#p007n113 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKFTtYx2OHc&NR=1&feature=fvw
Gender, Age & Ethnicity• Factors which ‘supposedly’ shape how you vote• Gender: women tend to vote Conservative• Age: 18-35 Labour 45-65 Conservative• Ethnicity: Black & Asian voters tend to be Labour supporters
Regional Factors• Political parties tend to have ‘clumped’ support• Labour – industrial towns in North of England, Scotland & Wales• Conservatives – London, South East suburbia & rural communities in England• Liberal Democrats – evenly spread support
Party Deference “The Conservatives have had more experience over the centuries. Its in the blood for them, running the country. There’s more family background in the Conservatives, more of the aristocratic,more heritage. Theyre gentlemen born. I think theyre made for that sort of job” R Samuel – The Deference Voter 1960
Partisan and Class Theories “Broadly speaking the electorate was divided into large blocs which provided reliable and stable voting support for the Conservative and Labour parties. The interconnected phenomena of class and partisan alignment were like twin pillars….which supported and sustained stable party support on the part of individual voters and stable two-party system overall” Denver 1994
Party Identification Model• Voters identify with a political party in their youth and remain loyal voters as they age• Choice of political party tends to be driven by social and economic factors• http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/collections/p007jyx1#p007n19z 1950’s 90%+ of voters 2000+ 55% of voters• Party Dealignment
Partisan Alignment“Generally speaking do you usually think of yourself as Conservative, Labour, a Liberal or what?” Butler & Stokes 1974
The Party Identification Model Check out The Basic Argument TACTICAL VOTING -• People identify with a political it’s linked to this party - for lots of reasons - and stick with that party for life. argument• 1950s - 90%+ of voters felt a strong party attachment to either • Voters are tired of the two the Conservative or Labour main parties. Parties. • Voters have an increased• 1997 - less than 75% of voters awareness of political felt a similar attachment. issues.• This process is known as • Better education. PARTISAN DEALIGNMENT. • Voters less likely to think in class terms. WHY DOES IT HAPPEN? • Some voters no longer identify with party. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blGVaUQ
Issue Voting• Vote for a party based solely on their manifesto policies• http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/collections/p007jyx1#p007n16m• Model arose post 1979• Parties traditionally focus on certain policy areas – Labour: health & education – Conservatives: taxes, economy & law – Liberal Democrats: environment• Independent MPs
Rational Choice Model• Voting behaviour influenced by: – Parties track record – Election manifesto – Party leaders – Key party players• Voters make a rational decision not based on class or age or gender or party allegiance BUT on who will benefit them and their families
Rational Voter Theory “….issues that are defined in terms of alternative courses of government action and issues that are defined in terms of goals and values that govt may achieve…….It is natural that the analysis ofissues should have a bias towards issues that have meaning in terms of alternative policies” Butler & Stokes 1974
Rational Choice Model Can you guess what The Basic Argument the key issues were for Class, age, gender - none of these rational voters in the are as important as the RATIONAL 2001 election? CHOICE made by voters. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=n4IlHiMXTrc&feature=related 11 -EURO 40% What 10 -EU 43% policies How is the 9 - Asylum 52% does the party Party 8 - Transport 64% performing? have? 7 - Tax 64% 6 - Pensions 65% What do I 5 - Employment 70%Do I agree think about thewith their Party leaders? 4 - Economy 74%manifesto? 3 - Education 81% I’m being 2 - Law & Order 82% rational! 1 - NHS 89% http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=6Qba6Yj6BJY&feature=channel
The Dominant Ideology Model The Basic Argument Dominant Ideology Case Study The Media & the 2001 Election• The institutions that • Majority of the press supported Labour. control the key • Labour - record levels of support from institutions of the UK national dailies and Sunday papers. share a DOMINANT DID THE MEDIA SET THE AGENDA IN 2001? IDEOLOGY. • NO - hardly anyone was interested in the election anyway. Press coverage• These institutions are was subdued, few front page stories. the MEDIA, BIG • NO - but they did try. However, BUSINESS and journalists and voters had very different POLITICAL PARTIES. PARTIES views as to what the key election issues were. • The 2001 election result was never in doubt - little evidence exists that the media were able to influence the result either way.
The Voting Context Model Why is this election taking place?And the basic argument is... Will I bother Voters THINK about the election voting? campaign and the REASON for calling the election. If I do vote, why will I Voters ask themselves a series vote? of questions. The questions What type of election is this? Voters are therefore Will I vote the attempting to put some same way in all elections? CONTEXT onto the meaning of the election.
The Party Leader Effect• Rise in profile of the party leader• Assessment of competence to lead country – economy, war, Europe, personality and personal lives• Media obsession with leaders• Mrs T set the mould - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7noHkLaZ5VI• Changing role of leader in govt• PM or President?• http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=EaL8BN4Gr0U&p=24B2AFBF94834CE9&playnext=1&index=4• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fIyT66s4So&feature=related
Apathy •18-24 year olds - 39%. 1997 •Low working class Turnout turnout also. 71.4% •Big regional differences: The most 2001 apathetic?Turnout Liverpool Riverside 34.1% 59.4% Winchester 72.3% WHY? •‘Too inconvenient’ 21% • PASSIVE ABSTENTION •‘Away on the day’ 16% ‘can’t be bothered’ •‘Not registered’ 15% • ACTIVE ABSTENTION •‘No polling card’ 11% refusal on principle / protest •‘Not interested’ 10%
Tactical Voting• A product of FPTP system• Voting for party A to keep out party B who you dislike because party C, your first choice, has no chance of winning• 1997 Hazel Grove Constituency – Tory 1000 vote majority over Lib Dems – If you are a Labour supporter, who do you vote for?
Tactical Voting And your basic argument is... Voters choose to vote for a candidate that may not be their first choice 1992 candidate in order to prevent their May have least favourite party or reduced the candidate being Conservative elected majority by half. 1997 2001 •More important role •Strong evidence of tactical voting. in outcome of the •Labour voters switched to Liberals election. in key constituencies. •‘More anti-tory voting •‘Independent’ encouraged a than ever before’ tactical vote. (Butler and Stokes).
Influence ofcampaigning, media, opinion polls…….. “Political change was neither related to the degree of exposure nor to any particular programmes or arguments put forward by theparties…..The inter-election years become more important than the 17 days campaigning, however intensive, because the swing is almostentirely accounted for before the opening of the election campaign” Trenamen & McQuail 1961
Election Campaigns• Jury out on influence of actual campaigns• 1979-87 – Labour poorly organised and unprofessional/ Conservatives use of powerful national negative advertising• 1990 to today – Labour got slick and carefully managed campaigns/ Conservatives campaigning tired and focused on wrong issues – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIBZ1QXi610 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBcYytunF-Y – - 2010 campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=4lyaV0igUDA&p=06BE5FAB442BA2DB&playnext=1&index=3• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqis1mkS2CE&feature=related
Was the 1997 General election a text book example of the power of a well organisedcampaign OR was it just time for a change ?
Opinion Polls• Disagreement on polls influence on elections• Polls often seen as election forecasts• Polls are a snapshot of voting intention• Best guide available for politicians and media• Cant be bothered or bandwagon effect• Different sampling methods• Sample sizes
Video Task• Who conducted the BBC’s exit poll?• What was the sample size?• What was the forecast result for: seats share of vote – Labour – Conservative – Lib Dems – Others• What Labour majority did the poll forecast?• What percentage swing to the Tories did the poll forecast?• What percentage swing did the Tories need to win?
The Media• Difference of opinion on influence of media• Looking at media content suggests there is some level of influence• Editors decisions on what and what not to focus on• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI&feature=related• Influence of the newspapers – If The Sun backs you, you win!• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDw-1bYatIs&feature=related• Labour recognised this, implemented a programme to charm and educate the media about NEW LABOUR
ISSUESOwnership ConcentrationDistortion of Reality People may be too busy to findPolitical Bias out themselvesNational InterestPublic Ignorance