‘Youthquake’ behind Labour election surge divides generations

20 Jun

The “youthquake” behind Labour’s general election surge extended to the under-45s, according to authoritative Ipsos Mori estimates of how Britain voted published on Tuesday.

The Ipsos Mori figures, which have been published for every general election since 1979, showed a more limited but still significant swing to the Conservatives among over-55s to produce the biggest age gap between supporters of the main two parties since the 1970s.

The Ipsos Mori data also confirmed that the middle classes swung to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour while the working classes swung behind Theresa May’s Conservatives, with each party achieving record scores.

Ipsos mori class

The findings of the estimates, based on the results of pre-election surveys during the campaign calibrated to match the actual results, also provided an answer to the disputed question of youth turnout, which included claims of up to 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds making it to the ballot box.

Ipsos Mori estimated that just over half – 54% – of 18 to 24-year-olds who are resident adults voted on 8 June and 55% of resident 25 to 34-year-olds made it to the polling station.

ipsos mori turnout

A spokesman for the polling company says these levels of younger voter turnout were similar to those seen in the EU referendum but far higher than in the 2015 general election. Turnout among 18 to 24-year-olds rose by 16 points compared with 2015. Ipsos Mori said turnout among older voters dipped slightly, by three points, but the over-65s were still much more likely to vote than the younger group.

ipsos mori age

Ipsos Mori said its estimate, which is based on resident adults in Britain, is more reliable and more meaningful than the usual figures based on registered voters. The turnout at the 2017 general election based on resident adults was 63% compared with the 69% of registered voters officially recorded; and 54% of resident 18 to 24-year-olds voted on 8 June compared with 64% of registered 18 to 24-year-olds.

The swing to Labour among the under-45s was actually strongest in the 25-34 age group at 13 points than the younger, student-dominated 18-24s, which saw a 10.5-point swing to Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour “youthquake” also had a gender aspect, with an 18-point swing to Corbyn among younger women compared with a 3.5-point swing to Labour among younger men.

The 2017 general election’s denting of long-held political assumptions is sharpest on the issue of social class.

The Ipsos-Mori estimates showed that while the Conservatives maintained a six-point lead among the more affluent ABC1 voters, Labour increased its share of the vote among this group by 12 points compared with the last general election in what was the party’s best score since 1979. Similarly among poorer, C2DE voters, Labour maintained a four-point lead but the Conservatives’ share of the vote increased by 12 points. The Tories achieved their best score since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979.

The polling company said there was little evidence that many people who didn’t vote in the 2015 election or the 2016 referendum took part in the 8 June general election. About 60% of the one in eight previous non-voters who made it to the ballot box this time backed Labour.

Ipsos Mori said the profile of Liberal Democrat voters was little changed in this election while the Greens lost some ground among younger voters – falling five points among 18-34s compared with 2015.

The biggest loser was Ukip which saw its vote share fall across the board. It managed a 5% share of the vote only among male DE voters while its biggest defections took place among working class and older voters.

Technical note

Base: 7,505 GB adults aged 18+ (of whom 5,255 were classified as likely voters, using the same definitions as in previous election estimates), interviewed by telephone and online between 21 April and 7 June 2017. The proportions of voters for each party and non-voters were then weighted to the actual results by region. The data was also weighted to the population profile of Great Britain.

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