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Getting out the right-wing extremist vote: extreme right party support and campaign effects at a recent British general election

  • David Cutts (a1) and Matthew J. Goodwin (a2)
Abstract

Despite strong evidence in the wider study of electoral behaviour that party campaigning can have important effects on performance, and a large pan-European literature on populist radical right and extreme right campaigns, we know very little about the impact of the latter on electoral performance. Drawing on a range of innovative campaign-related data at the aggregate and individual level, we examine the electoral impact of the British National Party (BNP) at the 2010 British general election. Our analysis reveals that whereas the extreme right polled strongest in working class manufacturing areas, support for the extreme right was significantly higher in areas where it ran intensive local campaigns, recruited larger numbers of members, has achieved local electoral success, and where local politics has historically been dominated by the centre-left. However, we find little evidence that the extreme right has benefited electorally in areas where the English Defence League social movement had previously demonstrated. Our aggregate level findings are also confirmed at the individual level after controlling for a battery of established attitudinal predictors of extreme right voting. Those contacted by the BNP campaign were significantly more likely to vote for the party, while campaigning by all other political parties was ineffective in reducing the probability of voting BNP.

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Corresponding author
*E-mails: D.J.Cutts@bath.ac.uk, david.cutts@manchester.ac.uk
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