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More of those who actually vote in local and general elections went for REMAIN not LEAVE

April 10th, 2017


Prof John Curtice

LEAVE won because of its success with the politically disengaged

It has become very common since the referendum to view all other elections through the prism of what happened on June 23rd last year. Thus parliamentary constituencies are divided into leave or remain depending on how they voted and this becomes the shorthand for describing a place.

We are told, for instance, that twice as many Labour MPs are in constituencies that voted leave than remain leading, I would suggest, to Mr Corbyn’s ambivalent attitude towards the result and to the process following on from that.

    When you dig deep into what polling data exists it is clear that the Brexit split in a particular area is far from a reliable guide to current political behaviour.

A major issue is that leave was highly successful in securing the support of those who are most politically disengaged. These are those who say they have no strong party identification and little or no interest at all in politics.

The table above, prepared by Professor John Curtice based on National Centre research, shows the split between what people did at the general election and what they did at the referendum based on the level of interest in politics and the strength of their party identification period. He writes:

“Those without much interest in politics and those who do not identify with a party were much more likely to have voted for Leave than those with an interest in politics and those with a strong party identity. No less than 64% of NatCen’s panellists with little or no interest in politics who voted in the referendum backed Leave, whereas amongst the remainder there was a small majority (53%) in favour of Remain. Similarly, as many as 72% of those who do not identify with a political party voted for Leave, whereas again, amongst the remainder of the sample Remain (52%) was slightly ahead..”

So the data suggests that those who vote in local/general elections are more likely to be remainers and, I’d suggest, that this is more pronounced with elections such as local ones and Westminster by-elections where turnout is markedly down on the general election.

Mike Smithson