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The power of incumbency: The 2010 LAB experience

January 8th, 2013

Even expenses scandal MPs did better

This is the second our charts based on data from a post-2010 paper by Prof John Curtice, Dr Stephen Fisher and Dr Rob Ford, and looks at the impact of incumbency at the 2010 general election.

This time the focus is on the governing party that was seeking to hold on, Labour. It shows that in those seats where a new candidate was standing the vote share loss averaged 7.4% which compared with 5% for those incumbents not implicated in the expenses scandal.

At the time there was a lot of talk about a “reverse incumbency” effect in which new candidates would do better. That proved to be incorrect.

    For even those LAB MPs who were implicated in the expenses furore fared, on average, nearly 1% better than those standing in the seat for the first time.

In a post at the weekend we looked at CON incumbents versus those seats where new candidates were standing.

If the 2015 election comes down to the Tories trying to hold on to as many as the seats won last time then, I’d suggest, that the LAB experience from 2010 is more relevant.

There’s little doubt that incubents do do better and that is something that has to be taken into account when trying to forecast overall seat changes.

Mike Smithson

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