Assess the Extent to Which Short Term Factors Are Now More Important Than Long Term Factors in Shaping Voting Behaviour

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The electorate are those that are eligible to vote, and many factors can influence the way in which the electorate do vote. Primacy, also known as long-term, factors are those that have a long term influence on the way in which somebody votes, for example the social class in which that person belongs to. Recency also referred to as short-term, factors are those which have a short-term influence and most prominently during the lead up to an election, an example of a recency factor is the impact of mass media. In the last few decades many long-term factors have become less important due to partisan and social de-alignment, whilst the short-term factors have been ever more emphasised and prominent.

To begin, the period of 1945-1970 was seen as an era of electoral stability, partially due to the stability of the voting patterns and the strong party identification. Thus the party identification model was supported by this period as partisan alignment, which is the long term manifestation of beliefs and loyalties was prominent in deterring the way the electorate voted. Supported by Punnet in 1971 was believed “for most people voting behaviour is habitual and ingrained”. Also, it was noted because of the dominance of the two main parties; Labour and Conservative whom gained on average 90% of the vote in the general elections. The sociological theory was identifiable in this period, which supported the idea of class alignment as people had a strong association of membership to a social class with the support of a political party. Pulzer stated in 1967 “the middle class had a tendency to vote Conservative and the working class had a tendency to vote Labour”. Although, short term factors such as the election campaign has significance as the elections were won by winning over the “floating voters” in important constituencies. These are all long-term factors that seemed to shape voting behaviour most extensively, however since this period the dominance has been reversed....
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