A Test of Core Vote Theories: The British Conservatives, 1997–2005
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 April 2011
The British Conservative party during 1997–2005 appeared to support the view that parties react to defeat by energizing their core vote base. Using a series of spatial and salience-based definitions of the core vote, combined with elite interviews with William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, the three Conservative leaders between 1997 and 2005, empirical evidence in support and also refutation of the core vote critique is evaluated here. The analyses suggest that Conservative issue strategies between 1997 and 2005 were chosen on grounds of spatial proximity and public perceptions of issue ownership, and that an appeal to Conservative voters was consistent with a broader appeal. The implications of this evidence are important for conceptualizing and applying party base explanations in Britain and beyond.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011
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33 Note that this problem also relates to the relationship of issue preferences and concerns to the vote – since parties seek to prime voters to cast their votes on favourable party issues.
34 If we took this measure as a proxy for party issue emphasis, the Conservative party's top three issues (in order of emphasis) would be health > Europe > taxation. The Labour party's would be health > education > pensions. The Liberal Democrat's would be health > education > Europe. Overall, the ‘most important election issues’ were of the order: health, education, Europe, taxation, pensions, crime, economy.
35 For example, all respondents, by party identification, ranked health between 9.03 and 9.35 on the 0–10 scale, all ranked taxation between 7.47 and 7.98, all ranked education between 8.59 and 9.11, and all ranked crime between 8.62 and 8.93 (total N = 4,304).
36 These data were kindly made available to the author by Dr Roger Mortimore from Ipsos-MORI.
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51 The Liberal Democrat position is marginally but not significantly closer than the Conservative position to Labour partisans (0.17 difference between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat gap) and Liberal Democrat partisans (0.09).
53 Ironically, this may be an example where Cameron was attempting to shore up his Eurosceptic voters and supporters. Cameron withdrew Conservative MEPs from the European People's Party (the centre-right grouping in Europe) and negotiated a new grouping of Eurosceptic parties.
54 Source: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/content/attitudes-towards-immigration.ashx. The net ‘agree minus disagree’ score was the percentage of ‘strongly agree’ and ‘tend to agree’ responses minus the percentage of ‘tend to disagree’ and ‘strongly disagree’ responses.
55 Using the 2005 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, and the question, ‘Do you think there are too many immigrants have been let into the country or not?’, 89.5 per cent of Conservative identifiers agreed, compared with 78.3 per cent of Labour identifiers, 66.4 per cent of Liberal Democrat identifiers, 73.7 per cent of people identifying with ‘other’ parties, and 86.5 per cent identifying with no party (total N = 2,093).
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