In a new article just published in West European Politics, my former colleagues at Royal Holloway Kaat Smets, Oliver Heath and I combine survey data and content analysis of tweets by the main parties and their leaders to investigate whether the strategies of the main British parties matched their voters’ issue positions during the 2017 UK General Election.
Leveraging the fertile framework of issue yield, proposed by Lorenzo De Sio and Till Weber, we ask whether and how parties tried to square the circle between satisfying the preferences of their loyal supporters, attracting voters from the other parties, and addressing issues that the general population cares about.
To learn what we found, you can read our blog post on the British Politics and Policy Blog of the London School of Economics and Politics Science, where we write:
The results from our analysis indicate that the Conservative campaign did not fully exploit the opportunities for expanding support that were open to them had they presented a broader agenda than the one they ultimately ran on. Our analysis indicates the Tories went overboard in their rhetoric on ‘getting on with the job’ of Brexit (which risked alienating their more moderate supporters who were uneasy about it) and ‘strong and stable leadership’ (which, repeated relentlessly during the campaign, ended up opening the door for mockery of May’s rigid communication style).
By contrast, Labour played a better hand and tapped into most of its electoral strengths. There is a clear left-wing anti-austerity constituency in Britain, and rather than being out of touch with the public mood, as many New Labour grandees feared, our analysis shows that Labour’s message under Corbyn resonated both with party supporters and the wider public. By offering its supporters policies they strongly agreed with, Labour also thwarted the electoral threat potentially inherent in its vague position on Brexit.
The article is part of a special issue on the study of party strategy and voting behavior in Western democracies through the lens of issue yield theory, titled “Conflict Mobilization or Problem-solving? Issue Competition in Western Europe”, guest edited by Lorenzo De Sio and Till Weber. You can find the other contributions in the “Latest Articles” section of West European Politics‘s website.
Online first: “The United Kingdom 2017 election: polarisation in a split issue space” by @prof_vaccari, Kaat Smets & @olhe.https://t.co/4ks9f7zAW0@Rout_PoliticsIR pic.twitter.com/BcoZi9Elxv
— WEP Journal (@WEPsocial) October 1, 2019