Do local political party members reflect the views of voters in their constituencies?

Welcome to the latest in my occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – how the views of political party members vary between constituencies.

As Chris Hanretty, Tim Bale and Paul Webb report:

Party members in left-leaning areas have more left-wing views, and vice versa. This association varies across dimensions of political competition: the association with local views is stronger on the authority–liberty dimension. 

Or to explain their research in more detail:

Since candidate selection by local party members is the most common form of candidate selection in the United Kingdom, it is important to understand local party members’ views, and how those views relate to views in the local area.

We investigate the degree to which individual members’ views match local opinion by combining the results of a large-scale survey of party members in the United Kingdom with estimates of local opinion created using multilevel regression and post-stratification.

We find that individual party members’ views are moderately to strongly associated with local opinion on both left-right and liberty-authority dimensions. Even so, party members are not entirely congruent with opinion in the local area, having opinions which are either to the left or right of voters in their local area, and which are uniformly more liberal than party supporters.

The full article, “Local party members’ views are associated, but not completely congruent, with local constituency opinion”, is available online.

You can read the other posts in the Evidence-based campaigning: what the academic research says series here.

One response to “Do local political party members reflect the views of voters in their constituencies?”

  1. but at least in the Liberal Democrats, the views of local members contributes to the democratic input and formulation of policy. The leadership is elected by the members and the policy is created by the members.. what other party can claim that.?
    The Tory party is an elected dictatorship, we should make that difference clear to the public.

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