Churn and gender gaps

Two things worth looking at elsewhere. The first is an article by Peter Kellner on churn. This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for sometime but never got round to, but Peter has now done the hardwork himself! I often see people taking about the next election from the starting assumption that Labour were at their low and so start from at least 30%, and that anyone who was going to vote Tory already did so they can’t get above 37%. Neither of these is true – not least, because current polls show the Conservatives already winning the support of some voters they didn’t have last time, and the Labour party already losing the support of some people who did vote for them last time. That’s not to underplay how difficult it would be for the Conservatives to increase their vote share, or that the partial demise of the Lib Dems has provided Labour with a good boost in support, just that it’s really not as simplistic as assuming Labour cannot lose any votes from last time, or that the Conservatives cannot gain votes… both are already happening to a great degree, it’s just when we look at the headline figures we only see the net effects of Labour up and Conservative down. In both cases there is actually plenty of movement in both directions.

The second, with no modesty whatsoever, is something I have written over on the YouGov website using the same aggregate YouGov data, in this case looking at the Conservative gender gap or, perhaps, its absence. This is something that will not go away, every couple of months a journalist pops up writing a column about how the Conservatives are doing worse amongst women, normally illustrated by ripping one single poll out of context that appears to show a gender gap. Looking at the wider polls, it doesn’t actually seem to exist. The aggregated monthly YouGov data in recent months has had the Conservatives on a solid 33% amongst men, and an equally solid 33% amongst women. No difference. The gap amongst women is bigger, but that appears to be because Labour do better amongst women and UKIP do worse.

At first site all the fuss about the Tory women problem is complete nonsense, but dig a little deeper and the Conservatives do appear to have a problem with some women. Specifically the Conservatives do worse amongst women than men amongst under 40s (and Labour the other way round). The reason the Tories don’t do any worse with women overall is that as you move up the age ranges the pattern reverses, so that amongst over 60s the Conservatives do better amongst women than amongst men. I’m guessing the latter is because of UKIP (who seem to appeal to men more than women, and whose support is heavily skewed towards older people), while the former is presumably because the Tories do have some sort of problem appealing to younger women (or… logically equally likely… Labour have some sort of problem appealing to younger men).


574 Responses to “Churn and gender gaps”

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  1. You meanie. Puncturing people’s cherished myths like that..

  2. “The second, with no modesty whatsoever, is something I have written over on the YouGov website”

    Nice.

    It sounds like the ’empathy vote’ (as opposed to the sympathy vote).

    Labour attract those with u-18 children, or those hoping to start a family, while the Conservatives attract those where the child rearing is past?

    With men, they tend to have less empathy when younger, and as they age, they generally soften, mellow etc.

    That’s one theory, anyway.

  3. People do become more conservative as they get older, as they become less tolerant about change.

    In regard to women, I think there is a perception that the coalition have not not been fair to families and I think women pick this up, more than men. There are also probably more women in low paid work, which is part time or casual. Labour are perhaps seen as offering a better deal to people in low paid jobs e.g talk about living wage.

  4. ” I often see people taking about the next election from the starting assumption that Labour were at their low and so start from at least 30%, and that anyone who was going to vote Tory already did so they can’t get above 37%. Neither of these is true – not least, because current polls show the Conservatives already winning the support of some voters they didn’t have last time, and the Labour party already losing the support of some people who did vote for them last time”
    _____________

    Ouch!!

  5. “Ouch!” Allan C?

    Labour are still averaging their 38, even if, voter for voter, the sea churns. That percentage reflects the weight of the argument (I suggest) in/on pubs, offices, tops of buses, all over the country.

    Who’s feeling the pain, VI-wise?

  6. “Labour have some sort of problem appealing to younger men….” (The thesis of the thread.)

    Understandable, instinctively, surely? A considerable proportion of younger men who don’t have a specific interest in opposing – or need to oppose – the unrestricted market, will find the ‘sport’ of unbridled (neoliberal) competition appeals. In the 60’s they turned in the other direction, because the old guard seemed stuffy and restricting, and H Wilson egged them on with ‘the white heat of the technological revolution’ etc. It’s a gut, or ballsy thing, but it only affects some, and its power to affect voting is going to be influenced (imo) by the community in which the young men live (more powerfully in Surrey than Manchester, for example.)

  7. Wow, my side is so awesome.

  8. My estimation is that people who disagree with me do so for bad reasons and that people who agree with me do so for good reasons.

    Politicians who I don’t like are hilarious and politicians I do like have made a lot of impressive speeches recently.

  9. Some recent polling trend isn’t very good for parties I dislike.

    Oh dear!!

  10. Anyway, thanks for the clarification Anthony. So you do think that gender crossbreaks can be relied upon, at least as trends?

  11. “Understandable, instinctively, surely? A considerable proportion of younger men who don’t have a specific interest in opposing – or need to oppose – the unrestricted market, will find the ‘sport’ of unbridled (neoliberal) competition appeals.”

    You may have a point. It’s also true that elected Tories are more commonly male than elected Labour candidates. This extends to policy – men I believe are more socially conservative than women, regardless of fiscal views.

    None of the party leaders are exactly masculine figures, with the possible exception of Nigel Farage, but his is only in a sleazy boss kind of way.

  12. @Mrnameless

    “You may have a point. It’s also true that elected Tories are more commonly male than elected Labour candidates. This extends to policy – men I believe are more socially conservative than women, regardless of fiscal views.”

    All-women short lists might be part of that imbalance.

  13. @ R Huckle,

    People do become more conservative as they get older, as they become less tolerant about change.

    I’d say the evidence for that is limited:

    http://i.imgur.com/FnzP9Na.png

    On the whole it appears that each generation has a fixed degree of conservatism which swings consistently from election to election, and each successive generation is less conservative (or at least less Tory) than its predecessors. There’s no sign of generations getting progressively more conservative as they age.

  14. COLIN DAVIES

    “Who’s feeling the pain, VI-wise?”
    ______

    Easy answer…All 3 main UK parties are. None of them seem to be able to poll over 40% which I find astonishing.

    And although as you correctly highlighted Labour are still polling their average (38%), we are still a year and a half away from the next UK election.

    Seriously why do some people behave like the election is a foregone conclusion?

  15. @Statgeek,

    Correct – I’m not commenting on why the candidates are more gender balanced for Labour. Merely that some men may be less open to voting for a female candidate (or one selected by AWS) than women for a male candidate.

  16. BILL PATRICK

    You appear to be hyperventilating… What’s the matter?

  17. It seems a bit outmoded to refer to “the three main parties” – there are two main parties, two minor parties and a bunch of organized irrelevances.

  18. (with the exception of Wales, Scotland and NI, obviously!)

  19. Kellner’s piece has, to my mind, two significan omissions,

    1) Though he analyses 2010 IDs for Lib, Lab, Con and even UKIP, he doesn’t even mention the “Other or None”2010 group of voters – who constitute about 20% of the YouGov panel and whose preferences could determine the election. *

    2) There’s no mention either of the likelihood that the different segments will vote. We have no reason to suppose that likelihood is the same for all respondents voting for a particular party. If, for example, Lib2Lab and Con2UKIP switches are all fanatics this is good for Labour – if they’re mouth and no trousers it’s good for the Tories!

    —————
    *YouGov have this information but seem determined to keep us in the dark about it. (It is recoverable from the YouGov tables and is interesting. If I had Statgeeks presentational skills…)

  20. mrnameless

    It seems a bit outmoded to refer to “the three main parties” – there are two main parties, two minor parties and a bunch of organized irrelevances
    ____________

    Not really, my interpretation of the 3 main UK parties are Tories Labour and UKIP is based purely on polling data.
    Anything outside that in my view is of little relevance in UK terms.

    Of course in Scotland their are only two contenders.

  21. #there

  22. @ Allan,

    Seriously why do some people behave like the election is a foregone conclusion?

    Because it furnishes tremendous opportunities for gloating if our predictions are right?

  23. …and considerable heartache if wrong.

    Best not to predict the election until the last poll before the election (regardless of one’s leanings). :))

  24. @ Statty,

    Yeah, but apart from the few brave souls issuing firm predictions against their favoured parties, we’ll all be too heartbroken by the result to notice the small added misery of our public humiliation here on UKPR.

  25. SPEARMINT

    “Because it furnishes tremendous opportunities for gloating if our predictions are right?”
    ______

    That’s a very good comeback, I like that.

  26. One of the unfortunate features of FPTP is that it can make it difficult for new/minor parties to get a “foot in the door” – often because voters think that usually winning a few seats is pointless when most of the time one major party has a sizable majority anyway.

    But I think the current situation has the potential to push a minor party into something like “major” status (not sure how these statuses would be defined). It does sometimes happen, oftentimes when all the usual choices have recently been found wanting.

    Then again PR can also do something like this in reverse: look at what happened to the Free Democrats in Germany – 93 seats down to zilch, all because of a measly 0.2% under the threshold.

  27. STATGEEK

    …and considerable heartache if wrong.

    Best not to predict the election until the last poll before the election (regardless of one’s leanings). :))
    ___________

    Another even better comeback. Mind how the Lib/Dems were polling very well and then the exit poll and Ming?

    Oh dear…. ):

  28. I tend to keep my next GE predictions fuzzy as long as possible. Or avoid making them where possible, ie at least 5 minutes after a government is installed.

  29. In the unlikely event that David Cameron is still PM after the next election, my single greatest pleasure is going to be seeing him lauded as a political colossus on these pages. After all, a Tory victory is completely out of the question, so if it happened it would have to be a tribute to his statesmanlike genius (or something).

    Of course it may be that my hopes would be dashed and that his victory would be dismissed as “not such a great achievement considering its only five years since Labour suffered a massive defeat” and “inevitable given the overwhelming bias in the media” and “quite disappointing for the Tories that they only managed a small swing from Labour despite the booming economy” etc, etc…

  30. KEITHP

    Again we can only make predictions and I know UKIP are polling quite well and will probably be a good bet to come in second at the Euro elections but I really do think they will fall flat precisely for the reason you stated.
    ..
    “One of the unfortunate features of FPTP is that it can make it difficult for new/minor parties to get a “foot in the door” – often because voters think that usually winning a few seats is pointless when most of the time one major party has a sizable majority anyway”
    ___

    Voters will wake up and see there are only two real players in town and vote accordingly.

  31. @ Neil A

    In the unlikely event that David Cameron is still PM after the next election, my single greatest pleasure is going to be seeing him lauded as a political colossus on these pages.
    ————————–
    Really… ‘cos I’m looking forward to you, Colin & Allan Christie happily chatting about how Labour’s majority would’ve been 120 instead of 60 were Ed Miliband not such a ‘drag on the ticket’. ;-)

  32. Any election victory – especially one that includes an OM – ought to be regarded as laudable at least.

    It’s just at the moment I think we are due a rather muddy, “victory by default” kind of result. So I expect there’s going to be some quibbles about how whoever wins gets there. And if they start off relatively popular, that won’t last long. Even if the economy is growing quite strongly, there’s some cuts and other unpleasantness on the horizon.

  33. Neil A

    In the unlikely event that David Cameron is still PM after the next election, my single greatest pleasure is going to be seeing him lauded as a political colossus on these pages
    ______________

    Good point because at present we have the leader of Aberdeen Labour led Council posting his days agenda on here and what looks like half the Labour party posting daily.

    What’s good for the mouse is good for the monkey.. or whatever the saying is..

  34. Major party: Has the organization, seat base, candidates and finances to have a chance of governing as a majority.

    Minor Party: Has a presence nationwide and potential for quite a few seats, but not the strength to form a government. May wield power in case of a hung parliament.

    Irrelevance: Single issue parties, parties which stand in limited seats, parties with no or very few elected representatives.

  35. AMBER

    I’ve always said that if David M was the leader then Labour really would be in the mid 40’s.

    Look at the part leader ratings for Ed, even amongst Labour supporters.

  36. @Mr Nameless
    “men I believe are more socially conservative than women”.

    This seems to be an article of faith for some on the left, but I’ve never seen any convincing evidence. When I was your age it was quite easy to believe the opposite. these things change with everything else in politics. Many women then were repelled by TUs, seeing them as antisocial and disruptive. There was a gender gap then, and women favoured the Tories. New Labour won them back.

    Besides which I don’t think social conservatism is all that appealing to younger men – “Libertarianism” i.e.” I should be able to do whatever I like and everyone else should have no say in the matter” – seems to be very much the trend. I suspect some young men think it gives them a “bad boy” image. But it’s an inherently anit-social and anti-socialist philosophy,

  37. MRNAMELESS

    You can post an entire tapestry of your rational on what a major and minor party are but what I’m saying is that I base it on consistent polling data along with hard evidence such as by-elections… ie lost deposits and so on.

  38. Well with both Anthony and Peter Kellner using these figures I’m sure we’ll be seeing the combined data tables being published tomorrow. Don’t want to be breaking BPC guidelines do we? :P

    Oddly enough Anthony doesn’t mention the biggest gender gap of all which is not to do with Party but certainty. If you look at today’s YouGov, 8% of men say they ‘Would Not Vote’ and another 10% say they ‘Don’t Know’ how they will do so. The comparative figures for women however are 11% and 20%. The total gender gap is 13 points – far more than than for any of the Parties and that’s before you consider that the Party percentages are only based on the 75% of the sample who gave a preference.

    Now I’m not sure how this actually works out in practice. Whether women are actually less likely to vote than men or whether they just make up their mind later. Furthermore it may be that if they do vote the preferences of this uncertain group may mirror that of those who have already decided or be completely different. I get the impression for example that the UKIP gender gap narrowed before last May’s elections, presumably as more women decided to vote for them (for the first time).

  39. “Who’s feeling the pain, VI-wise?”

    “Wow, my side is so awesome.”

    “Because it furnishes tremendous opportunities for gloating if our predictions are right?”

    “my single greatest pleasure is going to be seeing him lauded as a political colossus on these pages”

    “Really… ‘cos I’m looking forward to you, Colin & Allan Christie happily chatting about how Labour’s majority would’ve been 120 instead of 60 were Ed Miliband not such a ‘drag on the ticket’. ;-)”

    I bet Anthony is glad he started a new thread and injected a new wave of non-partisan debate. :))

  40. @AC

    For me the major parties are those that can potentially hold the majority of seats in a given situation. Con / Lab in Westminster and Lab / SNP in Holyrood.

    Lib & UKIP are minor due to VI and / or seats, while the rest at a Westminster level are the also-rans (and UKIP might yet be in with these after 2015).

    All my humble opinion etc etc.

  41. @the Geek

    Spoilsport

    Frustrating when you spend all day moving home, come late at night to catch up with pearls of wisdom, add a few gems of your own as you go through the thread, then come to the end of the thread and realise every body went to a new thread 2 hours ago and you have not even managed to cast your pearls before swine.

    As to floods and VI… we’ll look back and say the political storm was confined to a teacup and the whole shebang made naff all difference.

  42. Cameron – “money no object” “Whatever money is needed, we will spend it.”

    Wow, that line is going to come back to haunt him after all his austerity measures!

    It does look that now the Tory heartlands are feeling some pain, a blank cheque is written!

    I thought these things were sorted out with an insurance claim?

  43. One other thing that needs pointing out is that one of the reasons for the pro-Conservative age-gap in the over-60s is that on average women in this group will be older than men in this group. If the older people are, the more likely they are to be Tories, then this should make the gender gap bigger because of that alone.

    This also interacts with class because the better off are more likely to both live longer and vote Conservative.

  44. I think Kellner’s argument is a bit of a straw man. It starts from the premise that people don’t take churn into account.

    Many ought to ba able to see that churn can take place, even if you think a party has hit rock bottom, or reached its ceiling. For example, in a by-election with a controversial or disgraced candidate.

    Also, particular policies may turn out to be particularly welcomed by some voters, or be abhorrent to others. I’m not too happy about the storage thing, but it might be particularly annoying to those who work in the storage industry.

    We also know that some constituents, having had an MP act on one of their concerns, might come to hold them in particular regard.

    So those suggesting that the only way is up for one party, or down for another, might simply be taking churn into account. Sure, at an individual level, some may switch allegiance, such that Lab may lose some 2010 voters to other parties, and Tories gain some from others.

    But OVERALL, it’s hard to see Tories improving on 2010 after taking churn into account, because conditions were more favourable. Equally, taking churn into account, Lab are likely to improve since conditions were so bad last time, churn is liable to see a net gain for them.

    It’s a bit like unemployment. If there’s growth, people expect unemployment to come down overall. But they may well know that nonetheless, some people will actually become unemployed. The point is that conditions favour the net unemployment figure to come down…

    My own view, however, is that in principle, Tories could have improved on 2010 with the right policy mix. Look at the polling before the Omni budget. In theory, it’s still possible but harder when late in the day and it has become more difficult with the rise of UKip. But regardless of that, there are… events. Eg, a collapse in the oil price would be handy, like wot helped out Thatch…

  45. @Guy

    I thought it was quite refreshing to hear what people want, rather than what people claim they ‘believe will happen’.

    In other news, and relating somewhat to partisan stuff and ‘what folk think will happen’:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26147783

    “Scottish independence: George Osborne to ‘rule out currency union’ ”

    I won’t post much beyond that, as we’ve had a couple of threads dedicated to that lately. Suffice it to say, both sides are ramping up the rhetoric.

  46. Allan Christie

    re Miliband Snr

    You may be right that he would be higher in the polls but my view is that any benefit he had would be built on less firm foundations

    Miliband Jnr seems to be going for the 2001 vote i.e. the core + defectors after Iraq

    This is why he is not trying to go too far after the Tories and is trying to cement this ex-LD contingent.

    Miliband Snr, like Blair before him, would try to go for the centre-right Tories in the South as well which is a risky strategy and I think we would have seen a lot of people returning on election day – something that Blair experienced as well.

    I think Miliband Jnr’s approach appeals more and is more likely to deliver a win based on solid foundations. He will not, however, see VI in the mid 40s though

  47. SPEARMINT
    “There’s no sign of generations getting progressively more conservative as they age.”

    The alternative hypothesis is that a 1980s/1990s cohort of convinced Tory voters in their 30/40s is now aged 55 to 75 and continue to vote the same way they always did until they drop off into that great blogosphere in the sky.

  48. People do become more conservative as they get older, as they become less tolerant about change.

    Where did I go wrong?

    The older I get, the more left wing I get, and I trust authorities (be it Governments or private institutions) less and less.

    My wife and I could happily live on a remote Scottish island away from everyone else, and just be left to our own devices.

  49. @Carfrew

    Spot on. Churn will always happen, and doesn’t necessarily have any impact on the aggregate measures such as percentage of vote. After all people die, others become voters, people emigrate, people immigrate.

    Although it’s possible Labour will get a lower percentage than in 2010 it is extremely unlikely. The Conservatives may get higher than they did in 2010, but again it is unlikely (although I would argue less unlikely than Labour getting lower).

  50. “Libertarianism” i.e.” I should be able to do whatever I like and everyone else should have no say in the matter” – seems to be very much the trend.

    I’ve had a bit of discussion on this before – I find “Libertarians” defending free expression seem overwhelmingly to use it to defend racists, homophobes, sexists rather than to stop them restricting the rights of others.

    My problems with it are numerous, but the major one is that it seems to only believe in state power and no other kind. It is utterly unsuited to solving social problems because it does not believe they exist. That reluctance to see and solve problems seems very conservative to me.

    Anyway, yes, that seems to be about on the money for young men, like my flatmate who screams freedom of speech whenever he uses racial epithets or rails against women comedians. Libertarianism is a mask for social conservatism, because the latter has become largely unacceptable for our generation.

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