Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, June 09, 2017

Instant academic analysis

Two political scientists from the UK's University of Birmingham offer these informed observations on the UK election. The authors are Professor David Cutts and Associate Professor Tim Haughton.

Five things we just learned from the U.K. elections
Theresa May’s election gamble failed. Enticed by large leads in opinion polls, the British prime minister called an early election with the expectation of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim majority in Parliament. But the Conservatives lost seats, leaving no party with a majority…

[W]e suggest there are five takeaway lessons of the election:

  1. Two-party tribalism has returned...  [The] public responded, casting more than 80 percent of votes nationwide for the two main parties — for the first time in nearly 40 years… Helped in part by the mechanics of the “first past the post” electoral system, third parties were squeezed in key Labour-Conservative battlegrounds...
  2. Britain is more polarized than ever...  Labour entrenched its support in the urban and more cosmopolitan cities while the Conservatives stockpiled votes in the more rural areas of England… Labour’s ability to retain and win seats in university towns, for instance, owed much to the mobilization of young and more educated people…
  3. UKIP voters did not just migrate to the Conservatives.
  4. The Conservatives should have done better at the polls… polls universally showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred her over Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister — and found Conservatives far more credible on the economy than Labour…
  5. Mobilization efforts online and offline may have paid off… Labour put great emphasis on online campaigning and mobilizing younger voters. Social media studies during the campaign suggested that Labour’s online activism was at an unprecedented scale in a British general election…

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