Welcome to the latest in our occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – it’s the effect of being local on a candidate’s election chances, courtesy of an article in Political Geography [£]:
In this paper, we [analyse] the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters’ choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.
Although it’s not tested for, I suspect ‘being local’ in this case means a mix of two factors: the public like local candidates (they really like local candidates – see this earlier research) and also the closer a candidate lives, the better placed they usually are to lead, organise and take part in campaigning in the constituency.