The 2010 general election was the most eagerly awaited contest in Britain since 1997. With opinion polls showing a closing gap between the parties, the result was uncertain right up to polling day. In the end, the election was particularly noteworthy for three reasons. First of all, there were televised debates between leaders of the three largest parties. This idea has long been called for, but for a variety of reasons they had not occurred in Britain until 2010. Now they are here, they are almost certainly here to stay. Secondly, the election led to the end of thirteen years of Labour rule. Just as the 1964 and the 1997 elections had delivered the final blows to long-standing one party government, so 2010 did the same. What made 2010 particularly significant however was that, unlike 1964 or 1997, no single party assumed the reins of power. Thirdly, although the Conservatives ended up as the largest party by some margin, they were still some twenty seats short of a majority of just one. Not since the election of February 1974 had the result failed to produce a majority government in the Commons, and before that, we would have to go back to 1929 to find a similar outcome.
This book features high quality and data-rich examinations of the election. It is intended for audiences who want to go beyond a simple description of the election towards an enhanced understanding of why the election turned out the way it did.
This book was published as a special edition of Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties.
1. Introduction: The General Election of 2010 Justin Fisher and Christopher Wlezien The Leaders 2. Party Leaders as Movers and Shakers in British Campaigns? Results from the 2010 Election Daniel Stevens, Jeffrey A. Karp and Robert Hodgson 3. A Tale of Sound and Fury, Signifying Something? The Impact of the Leaders’ Debates in the 2010 UK General Election Charles Pattie and Ron Johnston The Polls 4. Why Did the Polls Overestimate Liberal Democrat Support? Sources of Polling Error in the 2010 British General Election Mark Pickup, J. Scott Matthews, Will Jennings, Robert Ford and Stephen D. Fisher 5. Confounding the Commentators: How the 2010 Exit Poll Got it (More or Less) Right John Curtice, Stephen D. Fisher and Jouni Kuha The Vote 6. Valence Politics and Electoral Choice in Britain, 2010 Harold Clarke, David Sanders, Marianne Stewart and Paul Whiteley 7. Ethnic Heterogeneity in the Social Bases of Voting at the 2010 British General Election Anthony F. Heath, Stephen D. Fisher, David Sanders and Maria Sobolewska The Outcome 8. Electoral Bias at the 2010 General Election: Evaluating its Extent in a Three-Party System Michael Thrasher, Galina Borisyuk, Colin Rallings and Ron Johnston 9. The UK Coalition Agreement of 2010: Who Won? Thomas Quinn, Judith Bara and John Bartle