Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-pjpqr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-24T20:14:09.066Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Effectiveness of Local Party Campaigns in 2005: Combining Evidence from Campaign Spending and Agent Survey Data

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2009

Abstract

Recently there has been a renewed interest in the role of local campaigns and their effectiveness on increasing turnout and support for political parties. However, there is a long-standing debate over the best way to measure campaign effort. This article advances the current literature by using a latent variable modelling approach to utilize, for the first time, evidence frorvey of agents, official records of campaign spending and individual voter survey data to produce a combined measure of campaign effort. This measure (latent variable) is then used in a structural equation model of party performance to assess the effect of the campaign effort of the three main parties at the 2005 British general election. In terms of both the delivery and effectiveness of campaigns the parties are found to behave in a way consistent with a rational model of party behaviour, though constrained by contextual factors.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 R. Johnston and C. Pattie, ‘The Impact of Party Spending on Party Constituency Campaigns at Recent British General Elections’, Party Politics, 1 (1995), 261–74.

2 D. Denver, G. Hands, J. Fisher and I. MacAllister, ‘Constituency Campaigning in Britain 1992–2001: Centralisation and Modernisation’, Party Politics, 9 (2003), 541–59.

3 P. Seyd and P. Whiteley, Labour’s Grass Roots: The Politics of Party Membership (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992); P. Whiteley, P. Seyd and J. Richardson, True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994); P. Seyd and P. Whiteley, New Labour’s Grass Roots: The Transformation of Party Membership (London: Palgrave, 2002); P. Whiteley, P. Seyd and A. Billinghurst, Third Force Politics: Liberal Democrats at the Grassroots (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); but see also D. Denver and G. Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering: Local Campaigning in the 1992 General Election (London: Frank Cass, 1997).

4 P. Whiteley and P. Seyd, ‘Party Election Campaigning in Britain: The Labour Party’, Party Politics, 9 (2003), 637–52; H. Clarke, D. Sanders, M. Stewart and P. Whiteley, Political Choice in Britain (Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

5 R. Dalton, I. McAllister and M. Wattenberg, ‘The Consequences of Partisan Dealignment’, in R. Dalton and M. Wattenberg, eds, Parties Without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 37–63.

6 A. Gerber and D. Green, ‘The Effects of Canvassing, Direct Mail, and Telephone Contact on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment’, American Political Science Review, 94 (2000), 653–63.

7 The first are exemplified by Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering; the second by R. Johnston, Money and Votes: Constituency Campaign Spending and Election Results (London: Croom Helm, 1987); the third by P. Whiteley and P. Seyd, ‘Local Party Campaigning and Voting Behaviour in Britain’, Journal of Politics, 56 (1994), 242–51.

8 D. Cutts, ‘Continuous Campaigning and Electoral Outcomes: The Liberal Democrats in Bath’, Political Geography, 25 (2006), 72–88.

9 P. Whiteley and P. Seyd, ‘How to Win a Landslide by Really Trying: The Effects of Local Campaigning on Voting in the 1997 British General Election’, Electoral Studies, 22 (2003), 301–24; Clark et al., Political Choice in Britain.

10 J. Fisher, D. Denver and G. Hands, ‘The Relative Electoral Impact of Central Party Co-ordination and Size of Party Membership at Constituency Level’, Electoral Studies, 25 (2006), 664–76.

11 D. Broder, The Party’s Over: The Failure of Politics in America (New York: Harper Row, 1971); P. Herrnson, ‘Campaign Professionalism and Fundraising in Congressional Elections’, Journal of Politics, 54 (1992), pp. 859–70.

12 S. Rosenstone and J. Hansen, Mobilization, Participation and Democracy in America (New York: Macmillan, 1993); R. Huckfeldt and J. Sprague, ‘Political Parties and Electoral Mobilization: Political Structure, Social Structure and the Party Canvass’, American Political Science Review, 86 (1992), 70–86; D. Green and A. Gerber, Get Out the Vote! How to Increase Voter Turnout (Washington, D. C.: The Brookings Institution, 2004).

13 Whiteley and Seyd, ‘Local Party Campaigning and Voting Behaviour in Britain’; Clarke et al., Political Choice in Britain.

14 Johnston and Pattie, ‘The Impact of Party Spending on Party Constituency Campaigns at Recent British General Elections’; Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering.

15 W. Robinson, ‘Ecological Correlations and the Behaviour of Individuals’, American Sociological Review, 15 (1950), 351–7.

16 Johnston and Pattie, ‘The Impact of Party Spending on Party Constituency Campaigns at Recent British General Elections’.

17 C. Pattie, R. Johnston and E. Fieldhouse, ‘Winning the Local Vote: The Effectiveness of Constituency Campaign Spending in Great Britain, 1983–92’, American Political Science Review, 89 (1995), 963–83.

18 E.g. G. Jacobson, ‘Campaign Spending Effects in U.S. Senate Elections: Evidence from the National Annenberg Election Survey’, Electoral Studies, 25 (2006), 195–226; G. Jacobson, ‘ The Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections: New Evidence for Old Arguments’, American Journal of Political Science, 34 (1990), 334–62; S. Levitt, ‘Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Electoral Outcomes in the U.S. House’, Journal of Political Economy, 102 (1994), 777–98; M. Eagles, ‘Money and Votes in Canada: Campaign Spending and Parliamentary Outcomes 1984–88, Canadian Public Policy, 19 (1993), 432–49.

19 Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering; Whiteley and Seyd, ‘Local Party Campaigning and Voting Behaviour in Britain’.

20 C. Pattie, P. Whiteley, R. Johnston and P. Seyd, ‘Measuring Local Campaign Effects: Labour Constituency Campaigning at the 1987 British General Election’, Political Studies, 42 (1994), 469–79.

21 Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering.

22 Cutts, ‘Continuous Campaigning and Electoral Outcomes’.

23 Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering; Denver et al., ‘Constituency Campaigning in Britain 1992–2001; J. Fisher, D. Denver, E. Fieldhouse, A. Russell and D.Cutts, ‘Constituency Campaigning in 2005: Ever More Centralisation?’ in D. Wring and J. Green, eds, Political Communications: The British General Election of 2005 (Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave, 2006), pp. 79–92.

24 Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering.

25 Not all the same questions were asked in the four surveys of electoral agents since 1992. Fisher and Denver have therefore used two modernization indexes (A and B) with the latter covering the elections since 1997 (J. Fisher and D. Denver, ‘From Foot Slogging to Call Centres: Constituency Campaigning 1992–2005’ (prepared for the Political Science Association Conference, 2006; see <http://www.psa.ac.uk>)).

26 Whiteley and Seyd , ‘Local Party Campaigning and Voting Behaviour in Britain’.

27 A. Abramowitz, ‘Incumbency, Campaign Spending and the Decline of Competition in U.S. House Elections’, Journal of Politics, 53 (1991), 34–56; Jacobson, ‘Campaign Spending Effects in U.S. Senate Elections’.

28 S. Ansolabehere and S. Iyengar, Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate (New York: The Free Press, 1995).

29 R. Johnston, C. Pattie, D. Dorling, D. Rossiter, H. Tunstall and I. MacAllister, ‘New Labour Landslide – Same Old Electoral Geography?’ in D. Denver, J. Fisher, P. Cowley and C. Pattie, eds, British Elections and Parties Review 8 (London: Frank Cass, 1998), pp. 35–64.

30 D. Denver, G. Hands, J. Fisher and I. MacAllister, ‘The Impact of Constituency Campaigning in the 2001 General Election’, British Elections and Parties Review 12 (London: Frank Cass, 2002), pp. 80–94.

31 Fisher et al., ‘Constituency Campaigning in 2005’.

32 R. Johnston and C. Pattie, ‘Do Canvassing and Campaigning Work? Evidence from the 2001 General Election in England’, in C. Rallings, R. Scully, J. Tonge and P. Webb, eds, British Elections and Parties Review 13 (London: Frank Cass, 2003), pp. 248–73; Denver et al., ‘The Impact of Constituency Campaigning in the 2001 General Election’.

33 Johnston et al., ‘New Labour Landslide – Same Old Electoral Geography?’

34 Denver et al., ‘The Impact of Constituency Campaigning in the 2001 General Election’.

35 Whiteley and Seyd, ‘Party Election Campaigning in Britain’.

36 See also Pattie et al., ‘Measuring Local Campaign Effects’.

37 K. Jöreskog and A. Goldberger, ‘Estimation of a Model with Multiple Indicators and Multiple Causes of a Single Latent Variable’, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 70 (1975), 631–9.

38 B. Zumbo, ‘Structural Equation Modeling and Test Validation’, in B. Everitt and D. Howell, Encyclopedia of Behavioral Statistics (Chichester, W. Sussex: Wiley, 2005), pp. 1951–8.

39 The arrows represent linear regressions for the Xs and continuous Ys, and non-linear regressions (e.g. probit, logit) for binary or ordinal Ys.

40 J. Fisher, D. Denver, E. Fieldhouse, A. Russell and D. Cutts, The General Election 2005: Campaign Analysis: Report (London: Electoral Commission, 2005).

41 For each party, the response rates were as follows: 334 Labour; 212 Liberal Democrats and 68 Conservatives.

42 Fisher and Denver, ‘From Foot Slogging to Call Centres’.

43 K. Jöreskog, ‘A General Method for Estimating a Linear Structural Equation System’, in A. Goldberger and O. Duncan, eds, Structural Equation Models in the Social Sciences (New York: Seminar, 1973), pp. 85–112; K. Bollen, Structural Equations with Latent Variables (New York: Wiley, 1989).

44 The indirect effect is simply calculated as the product of the b coefficients for the relevant paths. The total effect is the direct plus any indirect effects.

45 This information was collected from the parties as part of the Electoral Commission funded project lead by Professor Justin Fisher (see acknowledgments).

46 Fisher and Denver, ‘From Foot Slogging to Call Centres’; Johnston and Pattie, ‘The Impact of Party Spending on Party Constituency Campaigns at Recent British General Elections’.

47 Mean figures by target status are available from authors on request.

48 E. Fieldhouse and D. Cutts, ‘The Liberal Democrats: Steady Progress or Failure to Seize the Moment?’ in A. Geddes and J. Tonge, eds, Britain Decides: The UK General Election of 2005 (Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 70–90.

49 The models are fitted using Mplus 3.12 (L. Muthén and B. Muthén, MPlus User Guide, 3rd edn (Los Angeles: Muthén and Muthén, 2005).

50 Muthén and Muthén, MPlus User Guide, 3rd edn; B. Muthén, D. Kaplan and M. Hollis, ‘On Structural Equation Modeling with Data that are Not Missing Completely at Random’, Psychometrika, 51 (1987), 432–62.

51 J. Schafer and J. Graham, ‘Missing Data: Our View of the State of the Art’, Psychological Methods, 7 (2002), 147–77; J. Graham, ‘Adding Missing Data Relevant Variables to FIML Based Structural Equation Models’, Structural Equation Modeling, 10 (2003), 80–100; C. Enders, ‘A Primer on Maximum Likelihood Algorithms Available for Use with Missing Data’, Structural Equation Modeling, 8 (2001), 128–41.

52 R. Little and D. Rubin, Statistical Analysis with Missing Data (New York: John Wiley, 1987); P. Roth, ‘Missing Data: A Conceptual Review for Applied Psychologists’, Personnel Psychology, 47 (1994), 537–60; W. Wothke, ‘Longitudinal and Multi-Group Modeling with Missing Data’, in T. Little, K. Schnabel and J. Baumert, eds, Modeling Longitudinal and Multiple Group Data: Practical Issues, Applied Approaches and Specific Examples (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998), pp. 219–40.

53 Wothke, ‘Longitudinal and Multi-Group Modeling with Missing Data’.

54 Here it was important to include party share 2005 given that some unmeasured variable such as the feeling of efficacy of the agent may provide a link between response and the outcome.

55 For Labour, the two variables related to missingness were Labour margin and FT students. Regarding the Conservatives, they were Labour spending and Liberal Democrat margin.

56 Little and Rubin, Statistical Analysis with Missing Data.

57 The fit of the measurement model (without covariates) also met the criteria for a ‘good fit’ on each of the tests.

58 L. Hu and P. M. Bentler, ‘Cutoff Criteria for fit Indexes in Covariance Structure Analysis: Conventional Criteria versus New Alternatives’, Structural Equation Modeling, 6 (1999), 1–55. Detailed model fit statistics are available from the authors on request.

59 In the measurement model (without covariates) this loading was insignificant. Full results of the measurement model are available from the authors on request.

60 Fisher et al., ‘Constituency Campaigning in 2005’.

61 Liberal Democrat by Labour = 0.38, and Liberal Democrats by Conservatives = 0.52, both significant at p = 0.95.

62 Abramowitz, ‘Incumbency, Campaign Spending and the Decline of Competition in U.S. House Elections’; Jacobson ‘Campaign Spending Effects in U.S. Senate Elections’.

63 Fieldhouse and Cutts, ‘The Liberal Democrats’.

64 Andrew Russell and Edward Fieldhouse, Neither Left nor Right? The Liberal Democrats and the Electorate(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005).

65 E. Fieldhouse, D. Cutts and A. Russell, ‘Neither North nor South: The Liberal Democrat Performance in the 2005 General Election’, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 16 (2006), 77–92.

66 Denver and Hands, Modern Constituency Electioneering.

67 See also Fisher et al., ‘Constituency Campaigning in 2005’.

68 Fisher et al., ‘Constituency Campaigning in 2005’.

69 D. Cutts and N. Shryane, ‘Did Local Activism Really Matter? Liberal Democrat Campaigning at the 2001 General Election’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 8 (2006), 427–44.