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The first time incumbency bonus could make the Tory task of hanging on a bit easier

January 5th, 2013

The above chart is based on data from a post-2010 paper by Prof John Curtice, Dr Stephen Fisher and Dr Rob Ford, and seeks to reflect the impact of incumbency at the general election.

As can be seen the type of CON seat where the party did least well were in seats they were trying to retain but with a new candidate. Next up are those seats where incumbents were standing and the third column shows how first-time incumbents standing again fared.

    The question that’s been aired a fair bit this week is whether the same will happen again. Will the Tories get a first time incumbency boost in the 100 seats that were won at the last election?

The difference is quite marked ranging from 2.9% where a new candidate stood in a CON seat to 5.9% in those seats which had been won in 2005 and which the incumbent was defnding for the first time.

If anything like this happens in 2015 then the challenge facing the blues would be that much reduced.

There are, however, a couple of issues. Some of the 100 seat gainers from 2010 might follow the lead of Louise Mensch and decide that the parliamentary life is not for them. The prospect of a tough fight against LAB and the possiblity of defeat might make the Mensch route quite attractive.

The second factor is that quite a number of LAB candidates already chosen for 2015 are seeking to win-back the seats that they lost in 2010. Their names are already reasonably well-known and this could erode the CON first time incumbency bonus.

Mike Smithson

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