Do candidates count?

I’m reading Paul Richards ‘Labour’s Revival: A Moderniser’s Manifesto’’, as background for my own book writing exploits

I’ll reserve judgement on the whole tome for another time, but this amused me……

Paul explains why he didn’t manage to win a very winnable seat in 1997, but came close:

It would be nice to think they were voting for me but of course they weren’t.  Individual candidates make only a marginal difference in elections, unless they’ve done something bad (p. xxiv).

Perhaps Paul did something bad, because he’s clear on why some Labour candidates held their seats in 2010 against the odds:

The clear lesson from the campaigns that where local candidates were supported by active community-based campaigns, built on years of incumbency, with local issues to the fore, they stood a much better chance of winning (p.48).

 ps. I much prefer Don Paskini’s analysis of how to win elections.

pps.  I also know a thing or two about winning elections through local efforts.  Candidates do count.

  1. crossland
    October 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I think theres often confusion between the political stance of a candidate and the organisational hard graft of campaigning .

    There was research following 2005 by Phil cowley that looked at how much the ‘stance’ had an effect (ie – anti iraq ,tuition fees ,Id cards etc)by looking at the performance of labour ‘rebels’ compared to the wider party. it did find that there was a difference but that it was very small (+1-2% of the vote)and limited to inner city constituencies with larger student and muslim votes.

    I would think that makes a difference more for incumbents than insurgent candidates hence richards is probably right on that score. However I think it cuts both ways and the ‘willingness to graft’ and engage with voters probably is more important than whether you are ‘loyal or ‘rebel’.
    I think thats what you argue re ‘the bickerstaffe record’ etc – it doesnt matter much to your voters about your take on Modern monetary theory or that you are ‘to the left’ its your willingness to be active and ability to get your values across in a clear way.
    In the Last Election our M.P was a ‘campaigner’ but in a const where the boundaries where redrawn so half of it was ‘new’, The Tory was a well embedded and active councillor from the ‘new’ bit ,It made for an intense contest.

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