Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Living on the wrong side of town? Candidate-voter distance effects in the 2013 English County Council elections.

12 December 2013 | 4:00pm | Seminar

Michael Sadler LG 19

The next event in the POLIS seminar series will address the degree of 'localness' that influences voters at election time. The talk will be delivered by Professor Jocelyn Evans.


The degree of ‘localness’ of candidates, including their residential location, has long been theorised to influence voters at election time. Work on ecological data in the United States has looked at the association between levels of district voting and distance from the candidate’s own district, as well as testing the ‘home-state advantage’ hypothesis. Similar tests have been carried out on UK and New Zealand local elections and shown electoral bonuses for candidates in districts close to their own. Survey experiment work in the UK has shown that, other things being equal, voters rate candidates more highly for ‘localness’ than they do for other attributes, such as gender, occupation or educational attainment. The first individual-level test of distance effects in UK elections demonstrated that, controlling for standard explanations of vote, the distance from a voter’s home to that of the candidate was negatively associated with the likelihood of voting for that candidate in the 2010 General Election (Arzheimer and Evans, 2012). This paper builds upon this model, using the 2013 County Council elections. It improves upon the previous analysis in a number of ways, analysing an election where ‘localness’ effects would be expected to be stronger; combining a bespoke YouGov survey of voters with more precise locational data; including  UKIP candidates in its specification; and considering more closely how voters construe distance. It finds that distance does matter, not only as a linear measure but also in terms of candidates living in the same or different electoral division to voters. Finally, the paper simulates the effect of distance on candidate performances in this type of election.


K. Arzheimer & J. Evans (2012) ‘Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 UK general election in England,’ Political Geography, 31:5, 301-310.

All welcome.

There will be an opportunity for networking after the event.

Location Details

Michael Sadler Building LG 19. This is number 78 on the campus map. 

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