How People Vote, and Why Some Don’t

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore


The British voter is subjected to a heavy barrage of propaganda from all the major parties — and to occasional salvoes from minor groups and independents — during election campaigns, and to a lesser degree at other times. Earlier chapters of this book have sought to describe the various ways in which the parties seek to influence public opinion. This chapter will attempt to discern whether all this activity makes much difference to the way that people vote.


Vote Behaviour Opinion Poll Election Campaign Vote Intention Council House 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    David Butler and Donald Stokes, Political Change in Britain, 2nd edition (London: Macmillan, 1974);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 1.
    Bo Särlvik and Ivor Crewe, Decade of Dealignment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983);Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice, How Britain Votes (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1985);Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell, John Curtice, Geoffrey Evans, Julia Field and Sharon Witherspoon, Understanding Political Change (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1991);Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice with Bridget Taylor (eds), Labour’s Last Chance? (Aldershot: Dartmouth Press, 1994);Google Scholar
  6. 1.
    Harold D. Clarke, David Sanders, Marianne C. Stewart and Paul Whiteley, Political Choice in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 4.
    A 2003 MORI survey for Nestlé UK, which interviewed secondary school children rather than their parents, found that the same effect still seems to be present; but it also found a new development, that children of parents who do not vote have no intention of voting themselves. See Roger Mortimore and Claire Tyrrell, ‘Children’s Acquisition of Political Opinions’, Journal of Public Affairs Volume 4 (2004), 279–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 5.
    A strikingly similar ‘generational effect’ among US voters, which may largely have accounted for a long-term swing from Republican to Democrat, had earlier been detected by Angus Campbell, Philip Converse, Warren Miller and Donald Stokes, The American Voter (New York: Wiley, 1960), especially pp. 45–6.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Särlvik and Crewe, Decade of Dealignment. See also Ivor Crewe, Bo Särlvik and James Alt, ‘Partisan Dealignment in Britain 1964–74’, British Journal of Political Science Volume 7 (1977), 129–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 9.
    Anthony Heath, ‘Comment on Dennis Kavanagh’s “How We Vote Now”’, Electoral Studies Volume 5 (April 1986), 30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 13.
    Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper, 1957), and see, more recentlyGoogle Scholar
  12. 13.
    David Robertson, Class and the British Electorate (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984).Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Notably J. Lees-Marshment, Political Marketing and British Political Parties (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    See Mark Abrams, ‘Opinion Polls and Party Propaganda’, Public Opinion Quarterly Volume 28 (Spring 1964), 13–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 17.
    See David Denver, Gordon Hands and Iain MacAllister, ‘The Electoral Impact of Constituency Campaigning, 1992–2001’, Political Studies Volume 52 (June 2004), 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 18.
    P. M. Williams, ‘Two Notes on the British Electoral System’, Parliamentary Affairs, Winter 1966–7, pp. 13–30.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    See in particular Robert Worcester and Roger Mortimore, ‘The Most Boring Election Ever?’ in John Bartle, Simon Atkinson and Roger Mortimore (eds), Political Communications: The General Election Campaign of 2001 (London: Frank Cass, 2002), pp. 143–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dick Leonard and Roger Mortimore 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore

There are no affiliations available

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