The ‘Friends and neighbors’ effect in voting behavior

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It is known that geography can influence political elections.

For example, the ‘friends and neighbors voting’ effect refers to the fact that the candidates tend to grasp more votes in their home and adjacent counties.

This ‘voting for the home town boy’ phenomenon seems to be true in different countries and elections. However, recently researchers find that other local impacts should also be considered.

In a paper published in Political Geography, researchers examined the leadership of the UK’s Labour Party during 1994-2010.

For each leader, they checked the votes in different areas of UK, and found that each candidate’s political supports were all over the country.

This suggests that both personal alliances and common ground on policy issues are important for voting.

Researchers thus defined three important groups of voters: local friends, neighbors, and political friends.

In the UK’s Labour Party election case, each candidate won more support from their home town than elsewhere, and this confirms the support from local friends. In addition, they got better votes in neighboring places, and this confirms the support from neighbors.

Furthermore, these candidates also got more support from party members in the places where members of parliament voted for them in their separate component of the party’s electoral college.

This confirms that candidates got support from their political friends.

Researchers suggest that although the ‘home town boy’ effect is true in all candidates, the effect of political friends is very important too.

It seems that candidates’ profiles can be promoted by both formal and informal flow of information.

Citation: Johnston R, Wickham-Jones M, Pattie C, Cutts D, Pemberton H. (2016). Friends and neighbours voting revisited: The geography of support for candidates to lead the UK’s Labour party. Political Geography, November 2016, Vol.55, pp.1-9. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2016.02.003
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.