Spending, contacting, and voting: the 2010 British general election in the constituencies
Abstract. A substantial body of recent research has uncovered the impact of constituency campaigns on British general election outcomes, using the published returns of candidates’ spending as a proxy measure for their campaigns’ intensity—the more spent, the greater the intensity of the local campaign, and the greater the intensity of campaigning, the better their performance in the constituency, and the poorer their opponents’ performance. These data refer only to the last few weeks before the election, however, and cannot identify how spending affects behaviour. For the latter, it is argued that spending is a proxy measure for the amount of contact between candidates and voters; the greater the amount spent the greater the probability that an elector contacted will vote for the relevant party. It has been difficult to evaluate this argument until the 2010 general election, however, for which the availability of a large panel survey that includes information on those contacts allows a full assessment of the hypothesis. The results show that the more spent in a constituency the greater the volume and range of contacts there, which in turn increases the probability of individuals voting for the party concerned. Keywords: canvassing, contacting, campaign spending, elections, Britain
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