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. Re. the economic impact of the flooding, I’m with Phil- anything that redistributes money from insurance companies and wealthy people who own houses along riverbanks to the poorer people who fix those houses is likely to inject money into the real economy and boost consumer spending in the long term, although in the short term consumer spending and GDP will take a hit from the disruption to transport.

    Just think of it as God’s little mansion tax to fund a Keynesian work programme.

  2. @AW

    “There have been 7 occassions since 1945 when the public have ejected a party from office*. On 5 of those occassions, the party’s support fell even further at the next election (the exceptions were the Conservatives in 2001 and 1950). I expect Labour in 2015 to be another exception, but just don’t assume things can’t get worse for a party that when it gets kicked out, because they certainly can.”

    ———-

    That being the case, the question arises therefore, as to why. Why do folk think it’s more likely it’ll be different this time?

    See, people aren’t saying it would be unlikely for Labour’s vote to fall following ANY election, in all circumstances. They are considering it in the light of these particular circumstances.

    If we consider the examples from history that you gave, some are a case of Labour’s vote being split by the SDP, or Labour returning to the electorate quicker than normal, or the era of “Never had it so good”, when Tories benefited both from years of a reviving economy plus they moved onto Labour territory rather a lot, even competing on housebuilding.

    How many of those conditions pertain now? No rapid return to the electorate, no SDP split, Tories presiding over reductions in benefits and services, increases in VAT etc. We can add another factor that’s important now: Labour did uncommonly badly in the last election – it is harder to lose more support when you have already fallen far already. Pluswhich, the Tories cannot easily move towards the centre to steal more votes off Lab because of Ukip. And because it is a coalition, even the Libdems will struggle to hurt Labour.

    Thus, the point is that people aren’t saying Labour would inevitably improve their vote in all circumstances. Just in THESE particular circumstances. To challenge this would more properly require the provision of a compelling case for why the 2010 vote would desert them (barring churn etc.)

    Not that I don’t think you don’t have a point. I mean, strip out those Libdems, fleeing, traumatised, bleeding from the ears, into the arms of Labour, and the remaining vote isn’t far above 2010 levels. And of course the Labour vote has been split a bit by UKip. Economic recovery, albeit lopsided, continues.

    Perhaps the fundamental question is, to what extent will Labour’s vote be swayed by a recovery, or will they remain unconvinced, because unconvinced of austerity economically (having seen the initial economic impact, and that we needed a stimulus in the end) or in fairness terms. And then you have the distribution of the recovery geographically. Perhaps we need some polling to drill down into that, if it isn’t buried.in the data somewhere already.

    Another angle might be… how many have been seriously impacted. Public sector workers, people on welfare and tax credits, people close to them, people in the private sector dependent on public spending, the growing number of the electorate renting storage units etc….

    And of course, there are events. Say if Miliband lost the plot, announced a flat 50% tax and committed to trialling a haggis tax in Scotland…

  3. @ Carfew,

    Thus, the point is that people aren’t saying Labour would inevitably improve their vote in all circumstances

    They have been a bit. (Or more specifically, they’ve been saying Labour’s 2010 vote share is already in the bank.) That’s what I think Anthony was trying to argue against, rather than the idea that Labour won’t do better in 2015 than in 2010, since they self-evidently will.

  4. @ Carfrew, rather. I don’t know why I have so much trouble remembering your second ‘r’.

  5. Farron may become LD leader but I don’t think he will reach far beyond their old-style grass roots.

    Really, being in government has divided them into two very distinct wings and, once out of it, that will develop into a fault line.

  6. Anyway, not a lot to discuss here today, with so little going on politically in the UK.

  7. @Spearmint

    Yes, they might be saying the 2010 vote share is in the bank, but that is a particular election. Who has said that losers always increase their vote share next time?

  8. Spearmint
    Yes I made this comment a few days ago which ended ‘ it’s an ill wind….etc’. I don’t suppose many read it, perhaps AW changed the thread immediately. I added that unfortunately we would unlikely be able to find the people willing and able to carry out the work, so that would mean more east European immigration. I meant ‘unfortunately’ in the sense of what would go down well with a large section of voters.

  9. Ah, I see others have already been on the case about the early election thing…

  10. Howard

    Maybe someone will see this link and campaign for

    “More floods for all: more work for all.”

  11. Nick,

    ”Perhaps the fundamental question is, to what extent will Labour’s vote be swayed by a recovery, or will they remain unconvinced, because unconvinced of austerity economically (having seen the initial economic impact, and that we needed a stimulus in the end) or in fairness terms. And then you have the distribution of the recovery geographically. Perhaps we need some polling to drill down into that, if it isn’t buried.in the data somewhere already”

    Dead right this for me is the number 1 unknown between now and the GE; put simply how much will the Governing parties gain from the improving GDP numbers and how much will lab lose?

    Second the UKIP VI – will it fall at the GE, if so how much and how divided

    Third – will LD votes hold up in their LD/Con marginal and by how much?

  12. “I mean, strip out those Libdems, fleeing, traumatised, bleeding from the ears, into the arms of Labour, and the remaining vote isn’t far above 2010 levels.”

    Which suggests that the next election may be a blip within, rather than a reversal of, the gradual decline and (extinction?) of both the Labour and Conservative parties that has gone on since the final collapse of the three party system in 1931.

  13. @ Carfrew,

    I think we’re conflating two different questions, both of which are specific to the next general election.

    1) Will Labour win more than 29% of the vote in 2015?

    The answer to this is obviously ‘Yes’ barring some huge political cataclysm in the next eighteen months. I don’t think even T’Other Howard is bearish enough on Labour’s prospects to contest this.

    2) Barring the inevitable attrition due to deaths, emmigration and random churn, will Labour win the votes of the 29% of the electorate they won in 2010?

    People have taking one as a given as well, but it isn’t. For instance, Labour voters are now turning to Ukip in a way they weren’t in 2010. I think this is the idea that Anthony was trying to refute, and that’s why the other elections are relevant- they prove that parties don’t just lose supporters in government, they can lose them while they’re in opposition as well.

  14. @Roger Mexico

    However Conservative and UKIP supporters are much more likely to go for option (iii) and Labour and especially Lib Dems for (i). It’s not a complete split, even 20% of Tories go for (i) and 20% of Lib Dems for (iii), but it is striking.

    As so often nowadays age is almost as big a factor – the older you are the more likely you are to go for (iii), the younger for (i). Mind you the older you are the more climate change you are probably responsible for, so it’s probably denial. There seems litle variation in response by gender or class (except that indirectly caused by age), but London and Scotland are clearly stronger for (i). Option (ii) gets pretty even support across all categories.

    As so often nowadays age is almost as big a factor – the older you are the more likely you are to go for (iii), the younger for (i). Mind you the older you are the more climate change you are probably responsible for, so it’s probably denial. There seems litle variation in response by gender or class (except that indirectly caused by age), but London and Scotland are clearly stronger for (i). Option (ii) gets pretty even support across all categories.”

    ——-

    It’s strange, the science is the same whatever political persuasion, so why would there be such a difference?

    Thing is, small staters are unlikely to be happinated by the idea of climate change, since it is liable to require a lot of state action and challenges their core perception of things. And business may not like it when it obliges them to reduce carbon. Wealthy may not like it if it means being rather less profligate re: energy use, travel etc.

  15. @Spearmint

    No, we are not conflating two different things. I had already dealt with the churn aspect in an earlier post, now I am dealing with the other bits.

    The churn angle doesn’t work: people know about churn, they are not saying Labour will retain all of the exact same voters from 2010, even the ones who died.

    Meanwhile, the fact that losers sometimes do not gain vote share next time doesn’t help much, because people are not arguing the opposite. They are looking at the particular circumstances to make their case.

  16. @Carfrew,

    You might be right about the “small state” thing but I don’t think it has to be the case.

    I am, sort of, a “small stater” in that I think that governments should only involve themselves in economic activities where there is a clear rationale and evidential basis for that (ie a presumption of “not State”).

    But there’s a difference between having a Small State (ie lower numbers of public servants and less assets owned by the state) and Laissez-Faire. I think it is perfectly possible for governments to set the rules in such a way that the private sector gets on board with efforts to slow climate change, without necessarily indulging in large-scale, centralized project management. Carbon taxes are an obvious starting point. A Treasury that levies £2 per litre in fuel duty does have to be any larger, or employ any more staff than one that levies £1 per litre. Rail subsidies could be doubled without having to employ any more staff to hand them out.

    People will do whatever is in their economic interests (as they perceive them – they’re not always good judges) within the parameters set by the law. Set the right laws, and (most) people will make which ever legal choice suits them best. Companies included.

    The big gap I think is not so much the size of the state, it is rather political will, and international cooperation and coordination. I don’t see an increase in the state as a solution to either of these.

  17. *fuel duty doesn’t.

    An edit function, an edit function, my Kingdom for an edit function….

  18. @ Carfrew,

    But the 29% + 1/3 x 23% = 36% Labour baseline arithmetic that we see fairly often perceives that 29% as static.

    (No one has ever suggested undead voters or a total absence of churn, just that inflows = outflows to produce a reliable 29%.)

  19. @Spearmint

    “People have taking one as a given as well, but it isn’t. For instance, Labour voters are now turning to Ukip in a way they weren’t in 2010. I think this is the idea that Anthony was trying to refute, and that’s why the other elections are relevant- they prove that parties don’t just lose supporters in government, they can lose them while they’re in opposition as well.”

    ——

    I should add, there is a danger in arguing from the historical record, one which AW cautions against himself at times, for example when people say that governments don’t improve on their vote share in subsequent terms. If there was a past example similar to the current state of affairs, it might be more useful, but is there anything in the past that is even close to what is happening now?

  20. @SPEARMINT

    “But the 29% + 1/3 x 23% = 36% Labour baseline arithmetic that we see fairly often perceives that 29% as static.”

    ——

    Well, not static in the sense that there won’t be any churn. And they are saying Labour will retain the 29% level for a reason, or several reasons actually.The fact that sometimes losers may lose share in other situations, isn’t realky germane to this situation. You seem to be reiterating the original argument without actually addressing any of my counter-points. ..

  21. I heard the suggestion today that Labour’s campaign strategy should involve getting Andy Burnham, Tristram Hunt, Caroline Flint and Gloria de Piero to travel round marginals handing out red roses on Valentine’s Day.

    It was meant as a joke but actually I reckon it’s quite brilliant (and a good attention grabber). I know some on here are particular fans of Burnham…

  22. I don’t deny UKIP can steal some votes from Labour, so depressing Labour’s total vote, but I think this will largely be in either ultra safe Labour seats or hopeless ones, thus not costing Labour any seats.
    In the crucial Con/Lab marginals tribal Labour voters will stick with Labour to get rid of the Tories – and in fact it is in those seats the Tories will lose most votes to UKIP thus further helping Labour.
    The net result – Labour could win an OM or very near it on a relatively low share of the vote ( say 34 – 36%?)

  23. I see Alec Salmond is angry about something else! This time it is “no currency union, no deal on the debt”. Fine by me; one day after independance (which I seriously hope they get) stop all welfare payments to Scotland!

  24. Constitutional hypothetical: If Alex Salmond got the Scottish Parliament to vote for it, could Scotland secede without a referendum? Is that in the Parliament’s power? I don’t for a second think he will, but what would the position be? Would we go to war with Scotland or would the riots in Glasgow finish him off first?

  25. @MrNameless

    “If Alex Salmond got the Scottish Parliament to vote for it, could Scotland secede without a referendum? Is that in the Parliament’s power?”

    I’d strongly doubt that that was within the Scottish parliament’s powers (who as I recall don’t even have tax based powers) – or even in the UK parliament’s power. Something like that would require a referendum (as is happening),

    “Would we go to war with Scotland or would the riots in Glasgow finish him off first?”

    Well, given that Scotland houses the nuclear weapons, I’m not sure that’d be such a bright idea :P

  26. I think we should be careful with the two types of data – vote share and popular vote and how many MPS this produces.

    As an example take the LD performance.

    2005 5,985,454 22% 62
    2010 6,836,248 23% 55

    Most of us have this idea that there was this big ‘Cleggmania’ shift but the above tells a different story, under our FPTP system.

    That 900,000 is about the physical number of votes that Labour lost, so you could say it was a straight switch Lab to LD.

    However, the Conservatives raised their votes by nearly two millions!

    So without churn, one could say that David Cameron single handedly persuaded nearly two million people who were previously DK/WNV to make their minds up in his favour.

    Clearly, that is not what happened, so when we say ‘oh, there is a shift back to Labour from LD of 10% share’, we are surely missing a few tricks.

    So I believe in churn. :-)

  27. @ Howard

    Spot on! I think DC will do the same again and these people aren’t even on the VI at the moment.

  28. No, the Scottish Parliament is, at present, a creature of Westminster and has been denied any powers which might threaten Westminster’s hegemony. The Referendum of itself is without any decisive power; it is only the fact that Westminster has agreed to abide by the decision which makes it anything more than an opinion poll.

    On the other hand, Scottish constitutional history (see Claim of Right) etc. indicates that sovereignty lies with the people (see also the Declaration of Arbroath) and not, as in England, with the crown in parliament. A referendum in Scotland, combined with a vote of the non-Scottish members in parliament is all it takes to end the Union.

    And by the way, when will the Yes Campaign get round to insisting that Scotland, if it votes yes, will NOT ‘leave the UK’ but bring the UK to an end?

    Without Scotland there is no Union.

    Unless it is the United Kingdom of South Britain and Northern Ireland, of course.

  29. I am surprised that that last offering got in. Too Scottish.

    Any hints yet about W&SE?

    And are there any by-elections in flood hit parts of the south?

    Future flooding, caused by the spring melt, is now a major concern to many in the Tay, Dee and Spey catchment areas. Whereas in lower areas of Scotland little snow has fallen, at higher levels (above 800 metres) there seems to ba a huge amount of snow (several metres on some ski runs). If that produces flooding in the spring and there is not the same coverage given to it by the London media as has been given to floods in the south then many will be convinced that anything that happens north of the border is of little importance to the south. So, London media run the risk of aiding the Yes campaign yet again. Let’s see if they fall into the trap set for them by the Scottish climate!

  30. Anthony must be asleep.

  31. Hi Oswald,
    It was very kind of you to offer support to the men dealing with the trees in your
    Lane.An awful job,in the dead of night.These people need all our help and support.Quiet today in South Wales.The Mountains are all snow clad and the
    Gritting lorries are out so there is obviously more to come.A few slates off the roof,a blocked stream,but this is nothing compared to others.
    Looking forward to the by election tonight!

  32. I was wondering what would happen to a by-election if it got too badly hit by floods/storms/etc that the result would be obviously skewed. Try again another day, or just go with it?

  33. I recall that we have known for a long time that the LDs experience more churn than anybody else.
    Whilst it is good to know that you can attract some voters sometimes who normally don’t support you perhaps the maximum core vote is better.

    A poster (sorry can’t remember and too much effort to search back) used this to contrast DM possibly attracting more centrist support which could melt away at any GE (or before this one even) with EM who appears to be better suited to entrenching (making churn resistant in todays jargon) a higher number of voters.

  34. Hi Ann In WetWindyWales
    Glad you are ok-ish. Batten down the hatches for the next storm!
    The lucky thing with the fallen timbers on my lane was that it happened after the nearby school closed.
    I hope we get some TV coverage of the by-election result tonight and I hope it is a result which gives us all something different to focus on tomorrow, regardless of who we support.

  35. I meant county/borough by-elections, of course

  36. @Colin
    “Anthony must be asleep.”
    That’s tempting fate! I am not sure he ever sleeps. If he does then he must have some sort of alarm system whch catches us out when we break the ‘rools’. Wots worse is that the naughty step is now probably underwater.

  37. OZWALD

    I think he does sleep. But he receives vibes from the Board…..then the coffin lid creaks open & he rises…..

  38. @Colin
    LOL!

  39. @Neil A

    Agreed, I wasn’t arguing that every person who wants to shrink the state a bit would be against the climate change thing. It tends to become a bigger deal, the more they have issues with state action…Libertarians can have a real problem with it. Including the global co-operation thing you mentioned, which can worry them even more…

  40. Do we know when the by-election result might come in?

  41. Thanks Mr Nameless for this link!

  42. Any predictions for turnout in Manchester?

    Cold day, poor weather, safe Labour seat.

    I predict between 20-30 %, resulting in a smaller Labour majority, but with about 50 – 60% vote.

  43. @Neil A

    Some small staters have issues with things like carbon taxes and carbon trading too, which can be perceived as State interference in the hallowed market.

  44. @Catmanjeff

    Actually, the weather in Manchester today has been excellent – best for several days.

  45. I’m in West Yorkshire – rainy at times, but always windy and cold, even if sunny.

    Going out to vote might not be a top priority tonight….

  46. @Ann in Wales

    Delighted that you are safe and can turn your mind to things other than the weather. I always enjoy your posts even if, as far as I can remember, I have never before commented on one of them.

  47. @Wes

    “Do we know when the by-election result might come in?”

    If we were in Russia, we’d probably know the result by now, some hours before the count had even started.

    “And the winner is, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with 99.9% of…………………..”

    @Spearmint

    “(No one has ever suggested undead voters or a total absence of churn, just that inflows = outflows to produce a reliable 29%.)”

    I was trying to make the same point, albeit in a rather ham-fisted way, when I first read Anthony’s commentary at the head of this now gargantuan thread (and I think those few of us still debating the delights of churn deserve a medal after 450 posts!). The ever changing composition of a party’s support isn’t as important as the regularity of its percentage share of the popular vote. I still think we can be pretty sure about the minimum levels of support that the major parties tend to attract. It’s how high their respective ceilings are that is the moot point.

    It amuses too to read some of the descriptions of the former Lib Dem voters now saying they’d vote Labour if there was a general election tomorrow, as if they were some illegitimate monolithic block of clone voters who only move as one. They are millions of individuals who happened to vote one way in 2010 and who will now probably vote another way next year. They will have a myriad of different reasons why they’ve decamped from a lifelong voting habit or decided to return to a party they have voted for before. They’re not some artificial limb stitched on to Labour; they are, for want of a better description, Labour voters.

  48. “Would we go to war with Scotland or would the riots in Glasgow finish him off first?”

    Is Westminster ready for another illegal war?

    Seriously, it’s up there with “let’s bomb Russia”.

  49. ‘ Chris Riley

    “Actually, the weather in Manchester today has been excellent – best for several days”

    In Wigan I don’t think it has rained all day which I think is the first time this has happened since I moved up 6 years ago! If Manchester is the same it suggests the best voting weather in 100 years or so!

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