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The BES data that appears to show the impact of the CON manifesto/dementia tax and TMay skipping the debate

August 2nd, 2017

Day by day percentage age saying something happened that changed their view (BES)

From the Manchester University write-up of their latest findings

“Towards the end of the questionnaire, we asked our respondents a new question that we asked for the first time in wave 12: ‘has anything happened in the last few days that has changed your view of any of the main political parties?’ Most respondents had clearly made up their minds about the parties well in advance of the election, with only 13% answering ‘yes’ over the whole of the campaign, though as the graph below shows, this proportion increased markedly over the course of the campaign, starting out at about 7% in the first week before increasing to an average of about 15% for the final weeks of the campaign.

For respondents that answered yes to this question, we asked them an opened ended question about what it was that changed their mind about one of the parties. This animation shows the evolution of these responses over the course of the campaign. Note that because they are frequently mentioned alongside the specific issues that people mention, I have removed the names of the parties and party leaders from the clouds. Without doing that the wordclouds would be dominated by these names throughout the campaign and we would not be able to see the specific issues that people mentioned in their responses.

At the start of the campaign wave, when not many respondents said something had happened that changed their mind about the parties, the largest word is ‘Abbott’ – a consequence of Diane Abbott’s interview about police funding a few days earlier. Other issues that appear in the first few days are the local elections (in particular people commenting on Labour’s poor performance and the evaporation of the UKIP vote), the triple lock on pensions, and Brexit.

On May 10, following Theresa May’s announcement the previous day, fox hunting briefly dominates responses. However, the leak of the Labour manifesto the next day quickly takes centre stage, with the word ‘manifesto’ being the most common until May 23. From May 18 onwards, ‘social care’ and ‘dementia tax’ steadily rise in prominence, until ‘care’ is the largest word on May 23 and remains prominent thereafter.

The aftermath of the Manchester bombing brought with it many respondents critical of the government’s handling of terrorism and security (and quite a few respondents saying they were unhappy with both parties for trying to score political points in the wake of the attack).

Following Corbyn’s late appearance and May’s nonappearance in the BBC leader’s debate on May 31 many respondents make debate related comments and the word ‘debate’ becomes the most common word for the next four days. Amongst these respondents, the most frequent comment was not anything that happened in the debate itself, but rather the fact that Theresa May hadn’t bothered to show up at all.

In the final few days of the campaign, the London Bridge attacks bring with them renewed concerns about terrorism, and in particular, anger about police cuts.

Together, these responses paint of a picture of the campaign influenced by a combination of the policies, campaign interviews and (non)appearances made by party leaders, and unforeseen and tragic events. Undoubtedly, these things influenced the outcome of the election and resulted in one of the most dramatic polling shifts ever seen over the course of the campaign.”

Thanks to Dr. Chris Prosser for this.