General Election 2005: What Voters Saw

Despite the intense media scrutiny of national campaigns, very little attention is generally paid to the campaigning material delivered through potential voters’ letterboxes or to the contact they have with parties on the telephone or the doorstep.This project set out to analyse both the quality and quantity of literature delivered by the parties in Great Britain during the General Election campaign. 313 volunteers in 223 constituencies recorded every contact they received from political parties. They collected 3,459 letters and leaflets as well as logging all doorstep contacts and telephone calls.This is the largest study of General Election campaigning material in British history.The information was collated by the New Politics Network, who completed the statistical analysis and case study examples. Dr Justin Fisher carried out the analysis of subject matter and style.

The study does not take account of media advertising or poster campaigns, and it should be remembered that these will have played at least an equal role in the public’s perceptions of the parties. Despite this,the results provide the largest ever ove rv i ew of a British election campaign and allow us unprecedented insight into what voters across the nation saw of each of the parties in the run up to the election.As such, they are an invaluable tool for assessing the health of local activism,of political parties and of our democracy as a whole.

Sam CoatesComment