Robert Johns and Heinz
Brandenburg, "Giving voters what they want? Party
orientation perceptions and preferences in the British
electorate," Party Politics, 20 (January 2014),
89-104. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue1/
The major political parties in Britain and elsewhere face a
dilemma. They have had to respond to a decline in
partisanship and hence a thinning out of their traditional
constituencies since the 1970s (Dalton, 2000; Schmitt and
Holmberg, 1995) by broadening and diversifying their appeal.
Such competitive pressures and their consequences were not
an entirely new phenomenon (Downs, 1957; Kirchheimer, 1966).
Yet it is fair to say that parties have substantially
transformed in recent decades not just by utilizing more
professional methods of electioneering but ultimately by
internalizing an organizational philosophy that has been
described as a 'political market orientation' (Ormrod,
- Figures and
- Figure 1. Mean perceptions of product/market
orientation for the three main parties.
- Figure 2. Perceived product/market orientation and
propensity to vote for all parties.
- Figure 3. PTV scores for pairs of parties by
differentials in their perceived orientations.
- Table 1. Correlations between orientation ratings
(main and quadratic terms) and PTV for a party:
- Table 2. Coefficients for orientation perceptions
from regressions of PTV for each party.
- Table 3. Main, squared and interaction (with party
ID) effects of orientation perceptions on PTV.
- Figure 4. Mean predicted PTV values for each party by
its perceived orientation (calculated from regression
models in Table 2)
(first paragraph of conclusion) The ideas at the heart of
Lees-Marshment's political marketing model--that parties
face a trade-off between sticking by their traditional
stances and modifying these to please a greater number of
voters, and that a party favouring the latter approach will
perform better in elections--are not abstruse academic
notions. They dominate popular discourse about electoral
politics. It seems unlikely then that, once explained in
more everyday terms, the product/market distinction will
have proved too unfamiliar or difficult for survey
respondents. Yet the straightforward predictions generated
from the Lees-Marshment model were confounded when tested on
individual-level data, both in bivariate and multivariate
analyses. Voters did not recognize the trade-off between the
two orientations, and they did not on the whole prefer
market orientation. Even non-partisan voters, the main
targets of market orientation, tended on balance to prefer