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Voting patterns between the 2015 & 2017 General Elections

Findings from the NatCen Panel

Polling station sign
Researchers: Martin Wood
Published: October 2017

Find out what happened to the Labour and Conservative share of the vote between 2015 and 2017 and who changed their vote.

Aim

The 2017 General Election saw Labour increase its share of the vote by 10%, compared with 5% for the Conservatives. This analysis explains that change. 

Publications 

You can read a short research report or John Curtice's blogs on what happened to the Labour and Conservative vote.

Key findings 

How did party voting patterns change? 

  • Labour were more likely to attract those who did not vote for them in 2015: 62% of Labour voters in 2017 also voted for them in 2015 with 75% the corresponding figure for the Conservatives. 
  • The Conservatives were more likely to gain votes from UKIP than were Labour (9% of their total compared with 3% of Labour’s). Labour votes came from a range of other parties, particularly the Tories (9% of the total) but a similar proportion moved to the Conservatives (making 8% of their vote). 

How did different types of people vote in 2015 and 2017?

  • Comfortable Britain: Solid Conservative voters who did not change their vote between 2015 and 2017, except a group who moved away from UKIP. Over two-fifths of the total Conservative vote in 2017 came from this group in 2017.
  • Liberal elite: Relatively strong Labour supporters in 2017 and saw a substantial shift to Labour from 2015 to 2017 – away from the Conservatives.
  • Young JAMs: Labour was the most popular party in 2017 but a large proportion did not vote. An even larger proportion did not vote in 2015 – Labour saw an increase in support from this source in 2017.
  • Liberal youth: Heavily Labour in 2017 and a substantial move to Labour since 2015 (away from the Conservatives, the Greens and not voting).
  • Traditional working class: Even Conservative and Labour in 2017. A movement away from UKIP and towards not voting.
  • Anti-immigration working class: Relatively likely to vote Conservative in 2017 having moved away from UKIP substantially since 2015. Labour picked up votes in this cluster, but more voted for the Conservatives.

Methods

This analysis is of data from the NatCen Panel, with fieldwork conducted in July 2017. We surveyed some of the same panel members in May 2017 and developed a separate weight to enable longitudinal analysis of this data.