Why political scientists should be cheering on the Conservative Party

Theresa May - photo CC BY 2 0 from EU2017 EE on Flickr

Theresa May- photo from EU2017.EE, used under the CC BY 2.0 license.

Political scientists spend a lot of time trying to measure what the impact of political campaigning really is on election results or how much election manifestos really matter.

The sort of experiments used in unsuffixed science are very rare. Scientists can try experiments with and without something present. For political scientists, it is rather harder as getting a party to try an election without a campaign or a manifesto is rather beyond the reach of their research budgets or ethical guidelines.

But now the Conservative Party has kindly gifted political scientists a handy field experiment in the European Parliament elections:

The [Conservative] party plans to spend no money on candidate campaigning, will not publish a manifesto and is refusing to hold a launch…

“The thinking is that if we make no effort then we will have an excuse for having done so badly. But it is seriously embarrassing,” said one MEP. [The Guardian]

Long may this gift to political scientists continue.

4 responses to “Why political scientists should be cheering on the Conservative Party”

  1. What are the Tories up to? A free range for Farage? Changing the face of politics cos they have got themselves into a mess they find no way out of?

  2. The Euro elections are of course odd elections. The experiment won’t necessarily apply to Nudging-over-Edge District Council. However, in Chelmsford, the Conservative leader posted online that they weren’t doing much canvassing or social media activity because of Brexit and because social media was better for negative posts than positive – and they lost power catastrophically. On the other hand, in Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley where I stood, they spent the entire election struggling to get out one leaflet, failed to get out a postal vote letter, were not exactly conspicuous in GOTV and won, albeit one seat by only 21 votes over us.

  3. Quirky and questionable decision by a party in meltdown as to what it stands for, how it operates and in what way it has any engagement with its voter (let alone activist) base.
    Otherwise a good case study for a PhD student in desperate need of a dissertation.

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