Issues and Change

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


Over the years, as we have seen, large numbers of voters shifted their allegiance. What specific issues moved them to change? We have stressed the diversity of political behaviour — the numerous cancelling cross-switches, some of them often ascribable to personal events unconnected with public affairs; we cannot hope to ‘explain’ all the strands in the pattern of change. But we can examine the potential contribution to the aggregate movements made by a few of the most publicized issues and we can suggest how well, at different points in the decade, they satisfy the three conditions for major impact set out in the last chapter. We shall at least be able to show that the issues to which the parties gave most prominence were not always those which had the greatest potential for change. We shall, moreover, demonstrate the way in which the power of particular issues to affect the party balance could alter dramatically in a short space of time. We leave till later chapters the electors’ more generalized images of the parties and the leaders that are, of course, inextricably linked with their reaction to issues. We also, because of their special character, put on one side economic issues for treatment in a separate chapter.


Social Service Foreign Affair Opinion Poll Maximum Impact Attitude Formation 
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Copyright information

© David Butler and Donald Stokes 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Donald Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Princeton UniversityUSA

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