We've got them on the list: Contacting, canvassing and voting in a British general election campaign

Ron Johnston*, David Cutts, Charles Pattie, Justin Fisher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Many voters are canvassed by British political parties in the months and weeks immediately preceding a general election - but many are not. The parties are selective in whom they make contact with, and where. They focus on those in marginal constituencies who are likely to vote for them - and having identified them early in the process they contact them again, seeking to sustain that support in the seats where the contest overall will be either won or lost. A large panel survey conducted immediately before and after the 2010 general election allows detailed insight into that pattern of canvassing, identifying who the parties contacted, and where, in the six months prior to the election being called, and then who were contacted during the month immediately preceding polling day, and in how many different ways. Each party focused on its own supporters in the marginal constituencies, and in the middle-class neighbourhoods within those constituencies, but whereas the Conservatives, expecting to win the election, campaigned most intensively in the seats they lost by relatively small margins at the previous contest, Labour and the Liberal Democrats fought defensive campaigns in the seats that they won then. Such tactics were successful; the more ways in which respondents were contacted by a party, the more likely they were to vote for it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • 2010 Election
  • Campaigning
  • Canvassing
  • Contact types
  • Great Britain
  • Panel survey


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