Seismographs for Youthquakes—How Do We Know How the Public Voted in British General Elections?
The question of whether or not Labour benefitted significantly from a “youthquake” in 2017 is perhaps the most controversial that has arisen in interpreting the outcome. This chapter explains the evidence on which such judgments are made, exploring its strengths and weaknesses: polls and surveys are always subject to a degree of uncertainty and possible error. In this case, some sources suggest there was a significant increase in the turnout of young people in 2017, others that there was not. Roger Mortimore documents each one, and concludes that the case is not proven either way; but he also argues that researchers could sometimes do more to ensure clarity when they publish, so as to help the lay observer trying to weigh up competing claims.
KeywordsYouthquake Opinion polls Survey methodology
- Ashcroft, Lord. (2015, May 8). Why did people vote as they did? My post-vote poll. Lord Ashcroft Polls. https://lordashcroftpolls.com/2015/05/why-did-people-vote-as-they-did-my-post-vote-poll/. Accessed June 4, 2018.
- Ashcroft, Lord. (2017, June 9). How did this result happen? My post-vote survey. Lord Ashcroft Polls. https://lordashcroftpolls.com/2017/06/result-happen-post-vote-survey/#more-15330. Accessed June 11, 2017.
- Baker, C., Audickas, L., Bate, A., Cracknell, R., Apostolova, V., Dempsey, N., et al. (2017). General election 2017: Results and analysis, House of Commons Library Research Paper No. CBP 7979, House of Commons Library, London, p. 54.Google Scholar
- BBC News. (2018, January 29). The myth of the 2017 ‘youthquake’ election. BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42747342. Accessed January 29, 2018.
- British Election Study Team. (2018, February 12). Youthquake—A reply to our critics—The British Election Study. British Election Study. http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-impact/youthquake-a-reply-to-our-critics/. Accessed April 30, 2018.
- Britton, L. M. (2017, June 9). Here’s the NME exit poll of how young people voted in 2017 general election. NME. http://www.nme.com/news/nme-exit-poll-young-voters-2017-general-election-2086012. Accessed June 4, 2018.
- Cain, S. (2017, December 15). ‘Youthquake’ named 2017 word of the year by Oxford dictionaries. The Guardian, London. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/dec/15/youthquake-named-2017-word-of-the-year-by-oxford-dictionaries. Accessed May 16, 2018.
- Clarke, H., Goodwin, M., & Whiteley, P. (2017, October 6). Underpaid, overworked and drowning in debt: You wonder why young people are voting again. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/underpaid-overworked-and-drowning-in-debt-you-wonder-why-young-people-are-voting-again-85298. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- Clarke, H., Goodwin, M., Whiteley, P., & Stewart, M. (2017, September 23). How the internet helped Labour at the general election. BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41349409. Accessed June 1, 2018.
- Crewe, I., Day, N., & Fox, A. D. (1991). The British electorate 1963–1987: A compendium of data from the British Election Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Curtis, C. (2017, June 13). How Britain voted at the 2017 general election. YouGov. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/06/13/how-britain-voted-2017-general-election/. Accessed October 23, 2017.
- Curtice, J., & Simpson, I. (2018). Why turnout was higher in the 2017 general election and the increase did not help Labour. NatCen Social Research. http://natcen.ac.uk/our-research/research/why-turnout-was-higher-in-the-2017-general-election/. Accessed June 4, 2018.
- Electoral Commission. (2016). The December 2015 electoral registers in Great Britain: Accuracy and completeness of the registers in Great Britain and the transition to individual electoral registration. Electoral Commission, London. http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/213377/The-December-2015-electoral-registers-in-Great-Britain-REPORT.pdf. Accessed February 6, 2017.
- Electoral Commission. (2017). 2017-UKPGE-Electoral-Data.XLS. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/excel_doc/0007/234979/2017-UKPGE-Electoral-Data.xls. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- Fieldhouse, E., Green, J., Evans, G., Schmitt, H., van der Eijk, C., Mellon, J., et al. (2016). British election study, 2015: Face-to-face post-election survey (SPSS dataset), version 4.0. The University of Manchester. http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-object/version-3-0-2015-face-to-face-post-election-survey/. Accessed June 15, 2018.
- Fieldhouse, E., Green, J., Evans, G., Schmitt, H., van der Eijk, C., Mellon, J., et al. (2017). British Election Study Internet Panel Waves 1–13 (SPSS dataset). The University of Manchester. http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-object/british-election-study-combined-wave-1-13-internet-panel/. Accessed June 7, 2018.
- Fieldhouse, E., Green, J., Evans, G., Schmitt, H., van der Eijk, C., Mellon, J., et al. (2018). 2017 Face-to-face post-election survey (SPSS dataset), version 1.0. The University of Manchester. http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-object/2017-face-to-face/. Accessed June 15, 2018.
- Kellner, P. (2015, June 8). General election 2015: How Britain really voted. YouGov. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/06/08/general-election-2015-how-britain-really-voted/. Accessed May 31, 2018.
- Kellner, P. (2018, January 30). The British Election Study claims there was no ‘youthquake’ last June. It’s wrong. Prospect. https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk//blogs/peter-kellner/the-british-election-study-claims-there-was-no-youthquake-last-june-its-wrong. Accessed May 15, 2018.
- Mortimore, R., Baines, P., Worcester, R., & Gill, M. (2017). BPC/MRS enquiry into election polling 2015: Ipsos MORI response and perspective. International Journal of Market Research, 59, 285–300.Google Scholar
- Price, R. (2017, June 8). This alternative election exit poll shows how young British voters may have caused a political earthquake. Business Insider. http://uk.businessinsider.com/young-people-labour-jeremy-corbyn-shock-exit-poll-victory-nme-2017-6. Accessed June 4, 2018.
- Prosser, C., Fieldhouse, E. A., Green, J., Mellon, J., & Evans, G. (2018). Tremors but no youthquake: Measuring changes in the age and turnout gradients at the 2015 and 2017 British general elections. SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 3111839, Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3111839. Accessed January 29, 2018.
- Skinner, G., & Mortimore, R. (2017). How Britain voted in the 2017 election. Ipsos MORI. https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/how-britain-voted-2017-election. Accessed May 30, 2018.
- Stewart, M., Clarke, H., Goodwin, M., & Whiteley, P. (2018, February 5). Yes, there was a ‘youthquake’ in the 2017 snap election—And it mattered. New Statesman. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/02/yes-there-was-youthquake-2017-snap-election-and-it-mattered. Accessed February 8, 2018.
- Sturgis, P., Baker, N., Callegaro, M., Fisher, S., Green, J., Jennings, W., et al. (2016). Report of the inquiry into the 2015 British general election opinion polls. Market Research Society and British Polling Council, London. http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/3789/. Accessed September 5, 2016.
- Whiteley, P., & Clarke, H. D. (2017, July 3). Understanding Labour’s ‘youthquake’. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/understanding-labours-youthquake-80333. Accessed June 1, 2018.