Which Promises Actually Matter? Election Pledge Centrality and Promissory Representation
65 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2018 Last revised: 24 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 13, 2018
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
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