Which Promises Actually Matter? Election Pledge Centrality and Promissory Representation

65 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2018 Last revised: 24 Nov 2019

See all articles by Jonathan Mellon

Jonathan Mellon

University of Manchester

Christopher Prosser

University of Manchester

Jordan Urban

University of Cambridge

Adam Feldman

University of Warwick

Date Written: November 13, 2018

Abstract

Parties make hundreds of campaign promises but not all are equally important to voters. Studies of government promise fulfilment accept that some promises matter more than others, but treat all promises equally because they lack an appropriate means of assigning promise centrality. To address this limitation, we propose a method that uses a conjoint experiment design to measure public option about promise importance which can be used to construct centrality weights. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by examining the 2017 UK conservative manifesto. Centrality weighting reduces our assessment of Conservative promise-keeping by 21 percentage points (2 SD of typical promise completion rates). Weighting increases the importance of EU promises sevenfold, immigration promises fivefold, and reduces the centrality of miscellaneous administrative promises more than half. These results illustrate that pledge centrality cannot be ignored when assessing pledge fulfillment.

Keywords: promise keeping, promissory representation, UK politics, manifestos, pledge fulfillment, brexit, EU

Suggested Citation

Mellon, Jonathan and Prosser, Christopher and Urban, Jordan and Feldman, Adam, Which Promises Actually Matter? Election Pledge Centrality and Promissory Representation (November 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3283813 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3283813

Jonathan Mellon (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Christopher Prosser

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Jordan Urban

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

Adam Feldman

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

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