New figures reveal which candidates do the most campaigning

Figures revealing which party’s candidates were most likely to do leafleting, canvassing, internet campaigning and a set of other activities have just been published by the Electoral Commission.

The Commission carried out a survey of local election candidates from the June 2009 campaign and found:

  • Conservative candidates were most likely to have produced a campaign leaflet (98% versus 70% for Lib Dems and 60% for Labour)
  • Labour and Conservative candidates were equally likely to have had telephone canvassing in their campaign (27% each, with 21% for the Lib Dems)
  • On average, Conservative candidates spent 21 hours a week campaigning during the campaign (excluding those who self-identified as paper candidates). Liberal Democrats were just behind on 20 hours and Labour lagging on 17 hours.
  • Liberal Democrat candidates were most likely to use the internet for canvassing, though the different is not statistically significant (8% compared with 7% for the other two). This figure understates the overall use of the internet given the question was restricted to using it “for canvassing”. Independent candidates were far more likely to have used the internet in this way, coming in at 28%.
  • Labour candidates were the most likely to have contacted the media (44%, with 31% for the Lib Dems and 20% for the Conservatives).
  • 90% of Conservative candidates said they enjoyed the campaigning, compared with 86% of Liberal Democrats and 80% of Labour candidates. (Unfortunately there isn’t a breakdown relating happiness to result in their ward!)

Once you get beyond leafleting, the range of campaign activities used drops off sharply across all three of the main parties. Even so, the amount of hours that candidates of all parties put in is impressive – and a reflection of the voluntary hard work that often goes unrecognised but is vital to making our democracy meaningful.

It’s common to see Liberal Democrats come in third in such surveys because the party is strong across a smaller proportion of the country than the other two main parties. The national figures therefore reveal relatively little about the party’s strength when it is serious fighting a seat.

However, Labour’s weakness across the board compared with the Conservatives is a strong illustration of just how deep the demotivation and organisational decay goes in the Labour Party at the moment.

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15 Comments

  • Cllr Robert Bleakley 19th Nov '09 - 1:07pm

    I find the first point very stranage. I would have at least have thought that the Lib Dems would be top of the poll here as we are the party of “community politics” and put all sorts of campaign literature through doors. In my ward (Tyldesley, Wigan Council) we do monthly Focus leaflets, street specials and surveys etc. It’s hard work but its worth it seeing that we now have the highest vote within Wigan borough.

    Don’t forget the David Penhaligan quote: “If you have something to say put it on a leaflet and put it through a letter box”

  • I would hope in wards where we do monthly Focus we would have more volunter delivers so candidates would spend significantly less time delivering leaflets. A Tory County Councillor in most parts of Norfolk does one leaflet every four years so propably spends a lot of time putting it out themselves in the month or two running up to the campaign.

  • saltirethinking 19th Nov '09 - 1:50pm

    Just seen a story about Bubbles Lamont on BBC Scotland.Now there’s a man who campaigns…. mostly with public money.

  • I think the Tory leaflet figure can be explained quite easily – Ashcroft money. Where the Lib Dems tend not to issue leaflets in no-hope seats, and Labour tend not to issue leaflets at all, the Tories can afford to do it and – perhaps more significantly – afford to pay for someone to do it for them, so even if they are employed full time they can still get the leaflets out. This would impact on satisfaction too – if I could pay someone to design, print and deliver all the leaflets in my ward I’d be over the moon!

    I’d be interested though in a survey which covered the age and employment status of the candidates. Now that might be revealing…

  • Tom Papworth 19th Nov '09 - 3:23pm

    If only they could list PPCs and how much campaigning they have done.

    It’d be a good way to hold them to account.

  • Tories campaign in non target wards at election time we generally don’t. A strength for us in terms of our targeting strategy, a weakness in terms of our national profile.

  • Ps. Cllr robert – I like your positivity and enthusiasm. Good luck to you sir!

  • @Cllr Robert Bleakley, don;t forget this is across all candidates and we field far more ‘paper’ candidates than the other two main parties plus it only says a campaign leaflet i.e. one not lots like we do in our target seats. It really doesn’t suprise me that the Tories well funded party that they are can afford to produce, print and deliver at least one leaflet for most of their candidates. I’m actually pretty happy that we are ahead of Labour on this measure.

  • Malcolm Todd 20th Nov '09 - 8:56am

    Okay, I’m not usually one of the ‘how dare they spend public money on anything but wheelie-bins (and by the way wheel-bins are horrible)’ brigade, but – what the hell are the Electoral Commission doing wasting our money on a survey like this? It simply isn’t germane to their function, as far as I can see.

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