When and why do voters change their evaluation of party leaders? Voters’ evaluations of party leaders are an increasingly important determinant of electoral behaviour. Which factors influence these evaluations of party leaders? Do voters evaluate party leaders who hold the office of prime minister differently from other party leaders, and do electoral campaigns and issues change these evaluations? I use a random effects model with within- and between-effects with panel data from the United Kingdom to analyse effects over time.
I find that campaigns play a significant role and that voters’ stance on Brexit has a considerable effect that varies over time. In addition, voters hold party leaders holding the office of prime minister accountable for bad economic performance. This effect is stronger during election campaigns. These findings have important implications for the personalisation of politics and further explain campaign dynamics in the 2017 general election.