So who really does the donkey work? Comparing the election campaign activity of party members and party supporters

Webb, Paul, Poletti, Monica and Bale, Tim (2016) So who really does the donkey work? Comparing the election campaign activity of party members and party supporters. In: PSA Annual International Conference 2016, 21-23 March 2016, Brighton.

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One of the traditional functions of party members is to campaign on behalf of their party at general elections. However, they are not the only people who volunteer for the job. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that non-members who strongly support a party may do even more than those who actually join it. This paper examines how different actors contributed to the electoral campaigns of six parties at the 2015 UK General Election. It uses new survey data covering not only members of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, United Kingdom Independence, Scottish Nationalist, and Green parties but also, firstly, voters who identified themselves as being close to one of those parties but did not formally belong to them and, secondly, those belonging to trade unions officially affiliated to the Labour Party. As well as exploring how much work they do during campaigns, we ask whether the three groups choose different activities and are differently motivated. We find that, at the individual level, party members do more than union members or non-member supporters, and that this is especially true of more intensive forms of activity. We also find that constituency context and political attitudes influence levels of activity, although there is no consistent impact from demographic factors. At the aggregate level, we estimate that the campaign work done by supporters and trade union members may match or even exceed that done by party members.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Depositing User: Paul Webb
Date Deposited: 06 May 2016 09:02
Last Modified: 06 May 2016 09:23

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Party Members in the United KingdomUnsetESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/M007537/1