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Voting Behaviour and Social Class 1992-2010: An Assignment

 

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Addendum June 2015. IPSOS MORI data on How Britain Voted in 2015 are now available here. I haven't yet incorporated this new information into the assignment. A little task for you!

In this document I  present  IPSOS MORI numerical data on Social Class and Voting Behaviour 1992-2010  followed by a link to EXCEL diagrammatic presentations of the same data and a basic summary of the changing patterns of voting behaviour between 1992 and 2010. There follow some further questions which hopefully will enable students to investigate recent patterns of voting behaviour in more detail. I hope that the assignment will help to familiarise students with voting behaviour statistics and illustrate some important trends in voting behaviour, especially the significant decline in class voting between 2005 and 2010. Students may prefer to focus especially on the 2010 General Election data.

Addendum : March and November 2012. At the end of this document I have added recent information on relationships between social class and voting behaviour as published in recent You Gov Surveys. Also you may click here and then follow the relevant links for past and regularly updated You Gov Polls and click here for You Gov articles by Peter Kellner.

Addendum November 2014. The data and exercises in this document originally referred only to the relationships between voting behaviour and social class in relation to the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. However we have recently seen increases in support for UKIP and the Greens and you may click here for an assignment below  on UKIP and Green support.

Addendum June 2015. IPSOS MORI data on How Britain Voted in 2015 are now available here. I haven't yet incorporated this new information into the assignment. A little task for you!

 
 

1992

1997 2001 2005 2010
 

Con

Lab

LD

Con Lab LD Con Lab LD Con Lab LD Con Lab Lib Dem

Total

                             
<

AB

56

20

22

41 [-15] 31 [11] 23 [1] 39 [-2] 30  [-1] 25 [2] 37 [-2] 28  [-2] 29  [4] 39 [2] 28  [0] 29  [0]

C1

52

25

19

37 [-15] 39[ 14] 22 [3] 36 [-1] 38 [-1] 20 [-2] 37[ 1] 32 [-6] 23[ 3] 39 [2] 28 [-4] 24 [ 1]

C2

38

41

17

31 [-7] 50 [9] 16 [-1] 29 [-2] 49 [-1] 15 [-1] 33 [4] 40 [-9] 19  [4] 37 [ 4] 29 [-11] 22[ 3]

DE

30

50

15

21 [-9] 59 [9] 13 [ -2] 24 [3] 55 [-4] 13 [0] 25 [1] 48  [-7] 18[ 5] 31 [6] 40 [-8] 17 [-1]

 

I have also reorganised the data in a slightly different format.

 

  1992 1997 2001 2005 2010
AB Con 56 41 39 37 39
C1 Con 52 37 36 37 39
C2 Con  38 31 29 33 37
DE Con 30 21 24 25 31
AB Lab 20 31 30 28 28
C1 Lab 25 39 38 32 28
C2 Lab  41 50 49 40 29
DE Lab 50 59 55 48 40
AB Lib Dem 22 23 25 29 29
C1 Lib Dem 19 22 20 23 24
C2 Lib Dem 17 16 15 19 22
DE Lib Dem 15 13 13 18 17

 

  1. The 1992 General Election: See Column Two .The high point s of class voting were in the General Elections of 1950 and 1951  since when  a process of class dealignment has occurred. Nevertheless there are still significant relationships between social class and voting behaviour in the 1992 General Election. Middle class voters are considerably more likely than working class voters to vote Conservative and working class voters are considerably more likely than middle class voters to vote Labour. However there is also substantial non-class voting. Support for the Liberal Democrats varies little along class lines middle class voters are slightly more likely than working class voters to vote Liberal Democrat..

  2. The 1997 General Election: See Column Three. In 1997 voters in all social classes switched substantially from Conservative to Labour. Notice however that the percentage switches were greater in the middle class than in the working class thus suggesting further class dealignment between 1992 and 1997.

  3. The 2001 General Election: See Column Four. There was a substantial decline in turnout between 1997 and 2001 but Labour again won a substantial victory. The pattern of class voting was very similar to 1997 and the percentage changes in each cell for the 2001 General Election are usually small although there is quite a substantial switch from Labour to Conservative voting among DE voters.

  4. The 2005 General Election : See Column 5 In 2005 there is a slight switch in AB support away from  both Conservative and Labour to the Liberal Democrats. However much more significant is the switch of C1, C2 and DE voters away from Labour and partly to the Conservatives and partly to the Liberal Democrats.

  5. The  2010 General Election See Column 6 AB and C1 support for the Conservatives increases but C2 and DE support for the Conservatives increases by more. AB support for Labour is unchanged , C1 support for Labour falls by 4% but C2 and DE support for Labour falls by 11% and 8% respectively. In terms of class voting the 2010 General Election is highly significant because patterns of voting behaviour among AB, C1 and C2 voters are virtually identical or, putting it another way , social class differences in voting behaviour between AB, C1 and C2 voters have virtually disappeared. Only Social Class DE is significantly less likely than the other social classes to vote Conservative and significantly more likely than the other social classes to vote Labour and even for the DE support for Labour is considerably smaller and support for the Conservatives considerably greater than in previous General Elections.

  6. All of these points are illustrated in these EXCEL diagrams.   Here you will find three sheets of numerical data and their related EXCEL Charts. Sheet One/Chart One presents the data on Social Class and Voting Behaviour relating to all three major political parties while Sheet Two/Chart Two focuses only on the Conservative and Labour Parties and Sheet Three/Chart Three focuses only on the  Liberal Democrats.   The diagrams may help to clarify the overall statistical patterns

  1. Explain the term "Partisan Dealignment".

  2. Explain the term "Class Dealignment"

  3. Use the data in the second column of the second table above to show that there were considerable social class differences in voting behaviour in 1992.

  4. Between 1992 and 1997 a substantial percentage of voters in all social classes switched from voting Conservative to voting Labour. Give three reasons why this may have occurred.

  5. Briefly compare patterns of social class voting in 1997 and 2001. Was there much change?

  6. What happened to AB support for the Conservative Party and for the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010? Did very large changes occur?

  7. How would you explain trends in AB support for the Conservative and Labour Parties between 1997 and 2010?

  8. What happened to C1 support for the Conservative Party and for the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010. Did very large changes occur?

  9. How would you explain these trends in C1 support for the Conservative and Labour Parties between 1997 and 2010?

  10. What happened to C2 support for the Conservative Party and for the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010? Did very large changes occur?

  11. How would you explain trends in C2 support for the Conservative and Labour Parties between 1997 and 2010?

  12. What happened to DE support for the Conservative Party and for the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010. Did very large changes 0ccur?

  13. How would you explain trends in DE support for the Conservative and Labour Parties between 1997 and 2010?

  14. How would you describe the social class basis of Liberal Democrat support?

  15. Has overall support for the Liberal Democrats increased or decreased between 1992 and 2010?

Now let us look carefully at the 2010 General Election. Fill in the following brackets for the 2010 General Election.

  1. Fill in the brackets AB % Conservative =[  ]; AB % Labour = [   ]; AB % Liberal Democrat = [  ]

  2. Fill in the brackets  C1 % Conservative = [   ] : C1% Labour = [    ];  C1 % Liberal Democrat = [   ]

  3. Fill in the brackets  C2 % Conservative = [   ] : C2% Labour = [    ];  C2 % Liberal Democrat = [   ]

  4. Very importantly what does this tell you so far about the extent of social class differences in voting behaviour in 2010?

  5. Now fill in these brackets DE % Conservative [   ]; DE % Labour [    ]; DE % Liberal Democrat [    ]

  6. Would you accept the general conclusions that social class differences in voting behaviour as between social classes AB, C1 and C2 were negligible in 2010 ;  that only the DE grouping was noticeably more pro- Labour and less pro-Conservative than the three other social classes; and that even among the DE grouping their support for Labour was significantly lower than it has been in the past?

These data show a significant decline in social class voting between 2005 and 2010 primarily because Labour has lost support among the working class while retaining much of its support among the AB section of the middle class. Also the Conservatives have gained support primarily from the working class while their middle class support has remained relatively static.

Some Further Optional Questions

From your answers to questions 6-13  would you conclude that the following statements are TRUE or FALSE?

  1. AB support for the Conservatives changed little between 1997 and 2010.

  2. AB support for Labour changed little between 1997 and 2010

  3. C1 support for the Conservatives changed little between 1997 and 2010.

  4. C1 support for Labour changed little between 1997 and 2001

  5. C2 support for the Conservatives fell considerably between 1997 and 2010.

  6. C2 support for Labour fell considerably between 1997 and 2010

  7. DE support for the Conservatives fell considerably between 1997 and 2010

  8. DE support for Labour fell considerably between 1997 and 2010

 

Some additional Information Based upon You Gov Surveys in May 2010 and March and November 2012

Social Class and Voting Behaviour 2010 {You Gov surveys for the Sun Newspaper : Fieldwork 2nd-3rd May Data  = Black: Fieldwork Data for 4th-5th May  = Blue . Differences in the two sets of data as expected are very small

   Conservative  Labour  Liberal Democrat  Other
All voters [taking account of intention to vote] 35   35 28  28   28  28  
 ABC1="Middle class" ]  37  37  27   26   27  29  7  8
         
 C2DE [="Working Class"]  33    32    29  31  27  26  11 11
         
  1. Data from YouGov surveys differ from Ipsos Mori data in that YouGov data distinguish only between classes ABC1 [=the middle class] and C2DE [=the working class] .

  2. These data indicate that social class differences in voting behaviour in 2010 were very small: thus taking the data for the 4th-5th May ABC1 voters were 5% more likely than C2DE voters to vote Conservative and that C2DE voters were 5% more likely than ABC1 voters to vote Labour. To reiterate : these are very small social class differences in voting behaviour.

As is pointed out in  both "Explaining Cameron's Coalition[2011]  by R. Worcester, R. Mortimore, P. Baines and M .Gill [pp 280-282] and by Peter Kellner in his article* in Reassessing New Labour [2011 edited by Patrick Diamond and Michael Kenny  it is especially important to note also that as a result of the combined effects of changes in the UK class structure which resulted in increased and reduced  relative sizes of the middle class and working class respectively,  social class differences in turnout [AB and C1 individuals are more likely to vote than C2 and DE individuals] and the significant decline in C2 and DE support for Labour the Labour Party actually received more middle class votes than working class votes. in 2010 . This is a very important point which students should  emphasise in any  answers to questions on the changing relationships between social class and voting behaviour . [Peter Kellner's article is entitled "The Death of Class-Based Politics." Click here for a Guardian  article by Peter Kellner in which he analyses the relationship between social class and support for the Labour Party.]

Addendum March and November 2012

 Social class differences in voting intention were clearly small at the 2010 General Election but parties' overall opinion poll ratings and relationships between social class and voting behaviour are also often volatile between General Elections. In the following  table the above  YouGov data  for May 2010 are repeated  but the RED data refer to the findings of a You Gov survey based on fieldwork March 27-28 2012  [following the March 2012 Budget and controversy around Conservative Party funding] for the Sun Newspaper .  The PURPLE data refer to findings of a You Gov survey based on fieldwork 19th-20th November. Of course these  large Labour leads in the more recent polls may be temporary

 Click here for the  You Gov Survey based on fieldwork March 27-28 2012 for the Sun Newspaper . Data from this survey appear in RED. Click here   for the  You Gov Survey based on fieldwork 19th-20th November for the Sun Newspaper . Data from this survey appear in PURPLE

   Conservative  Labour  Liberal Democrat  Other
All voters [taking into account intention to vote]  35    35   34 33       28   28   44 42    28   28  10  10   9    9 12 15     
 ABC1="Middle class" ] 37    37  38 37  27   26  40 38  27  29  11 11  7  8  11 14
         
 C2DE [="Working Class"] 33    32   28  28   29  31  50 48  27  26   7 7  11 11  14 17
         

On the basis of these  surveys:

Click here for some further analysis of the current relationships between social class and voting behaviour

Addendum November 2014

We have recently seen increasing support for the Green Party and UKIP. You may click here for some links to information on these trends. Then using this information you could write a couple of paragraphs describing the overall social bases of Green and UKIP support including relationships between social class and support for the Green Party and UKIP