Information effect on voter turnout: How campaign spending mobilises voters

Abstract

We explore the impact of campaign effort on constituency-level turnout variation in Britain, under the premise that higher levels of campaign visibility stimulate electoral participation. We focus on the relationship between the competitiveness of the race and campaign effort as a provider of electoral information on the one hand, and voter turnout on the other hand. In doing so, we address the role of campaign effort and competitiveness in shaping turnout both independently as well as jointly. Further to this, we seek to add nuance to our understanding of how electoral campaigns mobilise voters by evaluating the comparative ability of different parties – based on whether or not they are ‘viable’ contenders in a particular constituency – to stimulate turnout. We find evidence that campaign effort mobilises voters and has a significant positive effect on voter turnout; this effect is independent from, and unconditioned by, the competitiveness of the race. However, we do find that this effect is mostly driven by the campaign effort of the ‘viable’ contenders in the constituency.

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Correspondence to Laura Sudulich.

Additional information

This paper is part of a special issue of Acta Politica entitled ‘Information and Electoral Competition’ edited by Sylvia Kritzinger, Susan Banducci, and Heiko Giebler.

Appendix A: Robustness Check

Appendix A: Robustness Check

Table A1 displays findings from models where previous turnout in the constituency is used to control for the profile of the constituency instead of marginality and socio-economic characteristics. It is operationalised as the percentage of voters who cast a valid vote at the 2005 general election in the constituency. The findings reported in Table A1 are in line with those presented in the main text. Campaign spending – aggregate and disaggregate – consistently has positive effects on turnout, while the effect sizes associated with campaign spending by viable and other contenders are comparable and remain within a rough 2:1 ratio.

Table A1 Previous turnout and campaign spending as predictors of turnout

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Trumm, S., Sudulich, L. & Townsley, J. Information effect on voter turnout: How campaign spending mobilises voters. Acta Polit 52, 461–478 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-016-0027-8

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Keywords

  • campaigns electoral participation
  • competitiveness
  • campaign information
  • Great Britain