Giving voters what they want? Party orientation perceptions and preferences in the British electorate

Johns, Robert and Brandenburg, Heinz (2014) Giving voters what they want? Party orientation perceptions and preferences in the British electorate. Party Politics, 20 (1). pp. 89-104. ISSN 1354-0688

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Abstract

Some of the most important propositions in the political marketing literature hinge on assumptions about the electorate. In particular, voters are presumed to react in different ways to different orientations or postures. Yet there are theoretical reasons for questioning some of these assumptions, and certainly they have seldom been empirically tested. Here, we focus on one prominent example of political marketing research: Lees-Marshment’s orientations’ model. We investigate how the public reacts to product and market orientation, whether they see a trade-off between the two (a point in dispute among political marketing scholars), and whether partisans differ from non-partisan voters by being more inclined to value product over market orientation. Evidence from two mass sample surveys of the British public (both conducted online by YouGov) demonstrates important heterogeneity within the electorate, casts doubt on the core assumptions underlying some political marketing arguments and raises broader questions about what voters are looking for in a party.