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Candidate Ethnicity and Vote Choice in Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2014


This article develops and tests a set of theoretical mechanisms by which candidate ethnicity may have affected the party vote choice of both white British and ethnic minority voters in the 2010 British general election. Ethnic minority candidates suffered an average electoral penalty of about 4 per cent of the three-party vote from whites, mostly because those with anti-immigrant feelings were less willing to vote for Muslims. Ethnic minority voter responses to candidate ethnicity differed by ethnic group. There were no significant effects for non-Muslim Indian and black voters, while Pakistani candidates benefited from an 8-point average electoral bonus from Pakistani voters.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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Department of Sociology, University of Oxford (email:; Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester and Department of Sociology, University of Oxford (email:; Department of Government, University of Essex (email:; School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester (email: The authors would like to thank Per Block and Nicole Martin for assistance with the coding of candidate ethnicity, and Jonathan Mellon for help with census data. Previous versions of this article were presented in Manchester, Oxford and at the ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik. We are grateful to participants at those events, especially Jean Benoit Pilet, and also Nicole Martin, Michael Traugott and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. This work was supported by funding from ESRC award ES/G038341/1. Data replication sets are available at


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