The Voting Context Model explains how and why voting decisions vary according to the differing nature of elections and the differing circumstances surrounding them.
It studies how individuals' votes may vary in different elections because of the different constituency characteristics in different types of election, because :
Thus, for example let us imagine that a very strong Conservative identifier lives in a very safe Labour local council ward which is part of a marginal Liberal Democrat -Labour Parliamentary constituency within a marginal Conservative-Liberal Democrat European constituency.He might:
Whereas another strong Conservative strong identifier might chose to vote Conservative even if it results in the election of a least preferred candidate.
Furthermore if at some point in the future local and parliamentary elections are carried out under some form of PR this too would encourage strong identifiers with all parties to vote for their preferred party.
Voters may also vote according to different criteria in different types of election.
The precise political circumstances surrounding by -elections may similarly influence voting behaviour in unexpected directions.
The voting context model is particularlyinteresting if watching the voting behaviour of a strong UKIP identifier. They will almost certainly vote UKIP in the European Parliament election, UKIP again in the council elections (both under PR), but Conservative in the general election if they are in a Labour-Conservative marginal as otherwise a vote for UKIP could mean a Labour candidate would win.
Of particular interest here is what happened to UKIP in the 2015 election. They picked up 3 million more votes, although they were too geographically spread out to win many seats. In Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless, who had defected from the Tories to UKIP and won his seat in a by-election in November, achieved the same number of votes in the General election as he had achieved in the by-election but lost by 7,000 votes to exactly the same Tory candidate. This suggests that UKIP still rely on low by-election turnout from mainstream party voters but in general elections they will need to up their game considerably to win seats.
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