Final Conservative Party Paper.pdf


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Prognosis
The Conservatives weren’t expected to win.
Incumbent governments, irrespective of party, typically lose votes and seats. Since 1832, the
governing party seeking re-election lost on average 3.9% of the vote and 59 seats2.
Change in Votes and Seats of Incumbents Seeking Re-election
Change in number of seats held

Change in share of vote (%)

100%

5.0%

0%

0.0%

!100%

!5.0%

!200%

!10.0%

!300%

!15.0%

!400%

Vote

1835%
1837%
1841%
1847%
1852%
1857%
1859%
1865%
1868%
1874%
1880%
1885%
1886%
1892%
1895%
1900%
1906%
1910%
1910%
1918%
1922%
1923%
1924%
1929%
1931%
1935%
1945%
1950%
1951%
1944%
1959%
1964%
1966%
1970%
1974%
1974%
1979%
1983%
1987%
1992%
1997%
2001%
2005%
2010%

Share

!20.0%

Source: Politics Resources

The last Prime Minister in office for over 18 months who increased vote share was Lord Salisbury in
1900, at the height of the Boer war. Every established incumbent since, including Thatcher and Blair,
lost share3.
Polling suggested that would happen again, predicting a 33.7% Conservative share, compared to
36.1% in 2010, suggesting a loss of 34 seats4.
Furthermore, although relatively well funded, the Conservatives had less to spend than in previous
elections, with considerable less available for advertising5.
Conservative Campaign Spend & Proportion Spent on Advertising
17.9%
16.7%
15.6%

12.8%
Spend (£m)
8.2%

7.5%

Total%
4.4%
45.8%

Adver7sing%

3.6%
44.9%

34.4%

2001%

23.1%
2005%

2010%

2015%
Source: Electoral Commission

Effective asset deployment would be key.

                                                                                                               
2

Source: Politics Resources. With population and boundary changes, the number of seats in Parliament has varied between elections,
invalidating changes in seat numbers as a meaningful measure for some years.
3
John Major in 1992 was the last Premier to increase share of vote. But he was relatively newly installed as party leader.
4
Source: Poll of polls, 8 January 2015. The 2010 figure is actual, not a poll. As we’ll see, the distinction between the two is critical.
5
Source: Electoral Commission. Under Election rules, all campaign spend must be declared, together with invoices. This includes spend
on manifesto, PR, broadcasts, admin and overheads, transport, rallies and events, unsolicited materials and market research.
Conservative advertising spend was reduced in favour of, amongst other things, greater investment in market research. Advertising
spend includes paid-for digital activity.
7