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Are the over 55 figures the best indicator?

May 29th, 2009

yougov-euros
YouGov

Do oldies dominate when there’s a very low-turnout?

I have to admit to being completely perplexed by the polling data that we are getting about next Thursday Euro election. What worries me is the turnout level which, if it is very low, will play havoc with all the polling projections.

Pollsters have a big enough challenge in a general election when 60% actually vote – how are they going to perform if the percentage is near to the 24% who bothered to take part in the 1999 Euro parliament vote?

All the firms are asking about “certainty to vote” – the problem here is that respondents might be wanting to show they are good citizens and the proportions we are getting in the surveys might be a lot higher than that which we see on the day.

So my current thinking is to focus on that section of the electorate that we know is much more likely to vote in elections of all kinds than any other group – the over 55s. Academic studies are projecting that in the general election they could comprise nearly a half of all those who cast their ballots. Could that proportion be even higher with the Euros?

Anybody who has ever been involved in local council elections will tell you how it is the elderly who are the ones most likely to be there and how few young people take part. And this has a big impact.

From the latest YouGov data above just observe the stark difference in voting intention patterns across the age groups. The oldies are much more likely to opt for UKIP and much less likely to be backing Labour. Observe as well how the BNP is performing amongst the over-55s.

If the result is anything like the oldest segment here then Labour is a long way behind Farage’s party and will be fighting it out for fourth place with the Lib Dems.

Hopefully things will become clearer in the final crop of poll due in the next few days.

Mike Smithson






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