Counting Labour’s comeback

Data seen exclusively by Left Foot Forward shows Labour has spoken to 650,000 voters in 2010. Academic studies show this is the best way to get out the vote.

This week’s New Statesman cover story looks at the Labour party’s increasing chances of a “surprise election victory”. Data seen exclusively by Left Foot Forward shows that using old and new methods, the party has spoken to over 650,000 voters since the start of the year. Academic studies show that this kind of contact is the best way to ensure that a political party gets its vote out.

In the New Statesman, Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre outline that:

Labour, according to Alexander, has made 400,000 voter contacts in marginal seats across the UK since the start of 2010. That figure is double the number of such contacts in the run-up to the 2005 election, and involves the use of software that allows local activists to set up phone banks in their homes.

One cannot overestimate the importance of such efforts – research for the Electoral Commission shows that “being contacted personally by a political party during the campaign increases the probability that an individual will vote”. So it is perhaps not surprising, as the senior strategist confirms, that “morale is significantly higher among our marginal MPs than it was even a month ago”.

But new figures seen exclusively by Left Foot Forward show that, in total, Labour activists have already spoken to 655,000 voters in 2010. 450,000 have been face-to-face with a further 205,000 by phone – much through the new online phone bank and grassroots-led campaigns like #MobMonday.

The academic evidence could not be clearer. The Yale University Get Out the Vote studies, led by Professors Alan Gerber and Don Green, have in various studies shown that face-to-face contact has a greater impact on turnout than either phone calls or mail. They find:

leaflets increase turnout by 1.2 per cent;

volunteer phone calls increase turnout by 3.8 per cent; and

door-to-door canvassing increases turnout by 7 to 11 per cent.

On this basis, the Labour party may have secured up to an extra 57,000 votes where it matters already this year. With Labour defending 20 seats with majorities under 1,000, this could make all the difference.

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