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Politics Today

The changing political demographic

todayJune 6, 2017 3

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The News Hour

It seems possible that the outcome will be a hung Parliament with all the complications that would create. From a neutral perspective, what is most fascinating is the way the political demographic is changing.  

Whilst it is true that each voter is an individual and will vote as they choose in the secret ballot, it appears that some of the long established assumptions about voter behaviour have changed. Traditionally, social class was seen as a reliable predictor of voter behaviour. If you were working class you would probably vote Labour and if you were middle class you would be a Tory. That is no longer true. At the beginning of this election campaign the Conservatives had a 17% lead amongst the working class voters and there was evidence that this related to their support for Brexit. 

Instead of class, age now seems to be the most obvious dividing factor in predicting the result of the election. Labour is way ahead in support from the 18-24 age group whilst the Conservatives are finding their support amongst the over 50’s. Historically this favoured the Conservatives because the older voters were more likely to cast their votes than the youngsters but that may not be true in this election. The social media carried strong encouragement for the younger citizens to register and a quarter of a million under 25’s registered on 22nd May, the last day to do so for the June 8th election. Whether this was out of idealism about a more socially just and equal society advocated by Labour or self-interest because Labour promised to cancel student fees, remains to be seen. 

Gender is no longer a significant factor in predicting election results in the UK, though women are more likely to cast their votes than men but there is no strong bias to or against either of the major parties. Education is a factor and whilst the Conservatives are expected to be well supported amongst those with no formal qualifications those with degrees are more likely to vote Labour.  

Income is also a factor and the higher the income the more likely is the recipient to vote Conservative. The Labour manifesto includes tax increases for those paid £80,000 a year or more but those people are highly unlikely to vote Labour anyway. At the other end of the spectrum, those with a personal income of less than £20,000, a group that includes many retired people, may well vote Conservative. The EU factor will be a special significance in this election because it was called in relation to the Brexit negotiations. It seems there is a correlation between older voters and support for a hard Brexit, whilst the Liberal Democrats are likely to pick up the votes of committed Remainers. UKIP are expected to receive more support from men than women but insufficient to win any seats. 

There is no contemporary evidence as to the influence that religious faith has on voting behaviour but if the result of the election is a hung Parliament, as some of the polls predict, the need for earnest prayer for whoever seeks to form a Government and conduct the negotiations with the EU is obvious. 

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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