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Why turnout was higher in the 2017 General Election

(and why the increase did not help Labour)

Polling station
Published: March 2018

At 69%, voter turnout in the 2017 General Election was higher than at any such election since 1997. In the latest release of our initial British Social Attitudes (BSA) findings, we examine the increase in more depth.

Aims

In particular, we wanted to focus on three key questions related to voter turnout:

  • Why did turnout increase (again) in the 2017 election?
  • Was turnout markedly higher amongst younger voters as compared with previous elections?
  • Was the increase in turnout particularly beneficial to the Labour party?

 

Key findings

  •  A likely driver of turnout was an increased interest in politics. The number of BSA respondents who said in 2017 that they had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of interest in politics was a record high of 43%.
  • 45% of people also stated that they believed there was a "great difference" between the Labour and Conservative parties, which may have also had an impact (this figure was just 27% in 2015).
  • There's little evidence of the election results being swayed by a 'youth-quake' of previously-disengaged younger voters that supported the Labour party in 2017. Turnout amongst 18-24 year-olds increased by 5%, which was broadly in line with the rest of the population (a 4% increase amongst 45-54 year-olds, and a 3% increase amongst the over-65s).
  • In fact, both the Conservatives and Labour saw an increase in turnout amongst voters who said they 'identified' with either party (a 2% increase for the Conservative party, leading to an 88% turnout for 'Conservative-identifying' respondents, and a 4% increase for Labour, leading to an 80% turnout for 'Labour-identifying respondents).

Read our full findings now.

 

Methodology

The 2017 BSA survey was conducted between July and November 2017, using a geographically-stratified sample of addresses drawn at random from the Postcode Address file. 

In total, 3,988 people were successfully contacted and interviewed.

Read the report