In the News

There was no 'youthquake' - latest research suggests youth turnout in 2017 General Election was similar to 2015

Jonny Clark

29th January 2018

Latest research data released by the respected British Election Study suggests that there was no significant difference in the turnout of young voters (18-24 years) in the 2017 General Election than in 2015. Given that all research has to build in a 'margin of error', the study is suggesting that the turnout in 2017 was anywhere between 40 and 50% of young voters - which was similar to 2015. In fact, it is possible that the turnout was actually lower in 2017. You can read the study report here.

This research is quite significant as it means that alternative causes of the Conservative Party's loss of their overall majority have to be looked at more carefully.  The popular narrative is that Jeremy Corbyn had more appeal to young voters than Ed Miliband in 2015, thanks to clever use of social media and a raft of proposed policies that may be more attractive to younger people (not least of which was the promise to scrap university tuition fees).  This galvanised the youth and increased their turnout, broadly to the benefit of Labour Party candidates.

The fascinating report also gives reasons for why such myths about voter turnout may have been started, indicating the disadvantages of how some polls are conducted.  For example, the now popular use of internet and telephone surveys can be flawed as a higher proportion of respondents do not tell the truth (they either suggest that they voted when they didn't or that they voted for an alternative party to their actual vote).  The BES's face-to-face study is seen to reduce some of these inaccuracies.  Respondents to internet surveys also tend to be more likely to have actually voted so can appear to skew results compared to a face-to-face method which is equally likely to survey voters and non-voters.

Here's a 'Dial Up' activity that uses the data from the BES to show turnouts for the different age groups.

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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