Crowdsourcing Campaigns: A New Dataset for Studying British Parties’ Electoral Communications

Date01 August 2021
Published date01 August 2021
DOI10.1177/1478929920970740
https://doi.org/10.1177/1478929920970740
Political Studies Review
2021, Vol. 19(3) 520 –527
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/1478929920970740
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Crowdsourcing Campaigns:
A New Dataset for Studying
British Parties’ Electoral
Communications
Caitlin Milazzo , Siim Trumm
and Joshua Townsley
Abstract
Parties’ electoral communications play a central role in British campaigns. Yet, we know little
about the nature of the material contained in these communications and how parties’ campaign
messages differ across constituencies or elections. In this article, we present a new dataset of
8600 election leaflets from four recent general elections that relies on crowdsourced information.
We illustrate the utility of the OpenElections dataset by comparing the use of negative campaign
messaging across parties and over time.
Keywords
election leaflets, campaigns, British elections
Accepted: 13 October 2020
Introduction
Election leaflets play a key role in British general election campaigns. They tell voters what
political parties – and their candidates – stand for, how they will serve their local communi-
ties and the nation, and provide information about parties’ chances of success. Despite the
increasing focus on social media, traditional unsolicited election communications – that is,
election leaflets – remain the most common form of contact that voters have with political
elites during a general election campaign.1 Indeed, political parties spend more money on
designing and distributing election leaflets and other unsolicited communications than on
any other campaign activity.2 While there are no official figures of how many leaflets parties
distribute, based on a survey of election agents, Johnston et al. (2012) estimate that the main
parties sent out 27–35 million leaflets and other unsolicited communications prior to the
2010 general election.
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Corresponding author:
Caitlin Milazzo, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK
Email: caitlin.milazzo@nottingham.ac.uk
970740PSW0010.1177/1478929920970740Political Studies ReviewMilazzo et al.
research-article2020
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