Student Vote and Party Preference April 2015
- Labour remain the first choice party for students
- The Green Party falls 13 points, slipping back into third place
- All other parties have made small gains in voting share
- 69% of students are likely to vote in the general election (rising from 66% last wave), bucking the youth trend
- Party leaders are still held in low regard; but some improvement since the start of the election campaign
As the general election approaches students’ likelihood to vote in a general election is increasing, rising from 66% last wave (Feb 2015) to 69% this wave. We have reported previously about students being more likely to vote than other types of young people, who are typically more apathetic and inactive. Our research estimated student turnout to be 71% at the last general election compared to just 44% for the overall population aged 18-24.
Our recent waves of polling data have charted the Green Party’s rise amongst students, steadily climbing past the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. However as the election approaches the Green bubble, if not quite burst, seems at least to be deflating. This latest wave sees the Greens fall 13 points, from 28% to 15%, losing second place for the first time this year. It appears that the Green Party are struggling to compete with the more established parties now that election campaigning has begun in earnest. This is also potentially evidence of a ‘protest vote’ ebbing away.
Labour continue to be the most popular student party with a 35% share, and the Conservative Party are 2rd with 25% (both up 2 points since February). The increase in Labour’s share is their first since September last year. The Liberal Democrats, SNP and UKIP all make gains but stay in 4th, 5th and 6th position respectively.
Along with voting intention, YouthSight also measures opinions towards the party leaders. An overall trend is that students generally dislike politicians more than they like them. Since YouthSight’s records began, Nigel Farage has been the most strongly disliked leader, and Natalie Bennett the least disliked. However, the level of dislike towards Bennett has increased over the last 6 months, as she has gained more exposure. Attitudes towards the Green Party leader may go some way to explaining their recent tumble in the polls.
Looking at the proportions who claim to like each leader, this has increased slightly across the board since the start of election season, with Miliband the biggest beneficiary of the campaigns. Levels of dislike have also decreased for Miliband, Clegg and Cameron.
About this research
Only full-time undergraduates at publicly funded UK and Higher Education institutions are included in each wave. The respondents questioned in the fieldwork for each wave are members of The Student Panel. Respondents have verified their academic email address (ending ‘ac.uk’). Nested quotas are used to achieve a sample that was representative of the UK full time undergraduate population by gender, course year (1, 2, 3+) and university type (Russell group, pre 1992 universities, post 1992 universities and specialist institutions). Targets for the quotas and weights are acquired using population data supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Fieldwork was conducted between 2nd – 8th April 2015. To date YouthSight has completed 100 waves of fieldwork on the Student Vote since July 2004. The sample size for each student omnibus survey is between 1,000-1,100 respondents.
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