The next Riigikogu election will take place in March 2015. With another cohort of hopeful candidates entering the ring shortly, it is useful to look at what previous elections can teach candidates about how to get elected. Siim Trumm, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, has examined the role that campaign activity and political capital have on candidates’ electoral performance in Estonia.
The electoral campaigns of today are multi-faceted and fast-evolving. Long gone are the days where class barriers were impenetrable and parties could rely on ‘voters for life’. Instead, we have reached the era of ‘shopping around’. Voting is increasingly ad hoc, issue-based, and crucially, it is becoming more and more personalised. With (blind) loyalty out of the window, we are witnessing a rise in the number of late-deciders, swing voters, and in split-ticket voting. And with an increasing number of votes up for grabs, candidates are unsurprisingly throwing more and more money at their electoral campaigns to galvanise ‘last-minute’ support and capitalise on voters’ uncertainty in the run up to the election.
How much difference can extra €s really make for candidates’ electoral chances?
It is widely accepted that candidates who spend more on their electoral campaigns than their competitors fare better. This is the case even when controlling for other potentially relevant characteristics such as the campaign focus, incumbency, local-level political experience, and party belonging. The effect of spending has been documented in a wide range of countries, including the US, the UK, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, France, as well as at the European elections. Using individual-level data from the 2011 Estonian Candidate Survey (ECS), it is now possible to look also how spending affects electoral success in Estonia. Continue reading