Influences on Voting behaviour Essay Questions



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Influences on Voting behaviour

Essay Questions

  • To what extent does the media have the power to influence voters?
  • Social class remains a major influence in elections. Discuss.
  • To what extent are the factors that influence voting inter-related?

Background on Voting Behaviour

  • Stability in voting patterns between 1945 – 1970
  • Domination by two parties. Third parties less than 10% vote share
  • More votes for LibDems in the 1970s
  • Voting patterns more volatile and less predictable - “partisan dealignment”

Social Class Class is the basis for all politics (Pulzer)

  • A factor in voting patterns along with race , gender, age, the media, location and issues
  • Traditionally, voters in classes A, B and C1 voted Conservative, while C2, D and E (working classes) voted Labour
  • However, working class occupations were disappearing in the 1980s to be replaced by increasing middle classes
  • Labour lost traditional working class support
  • Conservatives and LibDems attracted more working class vote
  • New Labour dropped some policies that appealed to the working class (nationalisation and union support)
  • By 2001, only 9% of voters thought Labour working class party
  • Social class is no longer reliable predictor of voting patterns

Age

  • Conservatives popular among the over 50s; younger and first time voters vote Labour
  • This trend has continued during the last 4 general elections
  • Older voters more likely to be conservatives, whereas younger voters concerned with health and education
  • Older voters less likely to change party alignment
  • Issues affect different age groups - issues concerning the young most differ from general voting public
  • Young voters are less likely to vote and less interested in politics. This could be the key to future elections.

Gender

  • In the 1950s and 60s more men voted Labour and women Conservatives. WHY?
  • By 2001 election, no significant gender difference
  • In 2005, slightly more women than men voted Labour. Women were critical to Labour’s success as 38% of women voted Labour (Mori)
  • School Gate Mum (new working class or professional middle class) is sought after by all the parties as she is very likely to vote
  • However, some argue that gender appears not to have a significant effect on voting behaviour

Race

Religion

Location

  • Regional variations in voting patterns
  • Conservatives dominate SE England; Labour strong in Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • The North south divide has shifted further south as labour dominated London after 1997
  • Four party contest in Scotland
  • Wales dominated by Labour
  • SW England controlled by Cons, with labour in 3rd.
  • Geographical differences might be due to class loyalties – Labour is strongest where working class are concentrated (Central Belt, Scotland). Conservatives in affluent middle class areas.

Issues

Image / personality

Party affiliation

  • Linked to ‘de-alignment’ theory
  • ‘Floating voters’ have a significant impact on elections
  • 13% of voters were undecided in the week before election in 2005; 36% were willing to change their mind
  • Party affiliation is less important than influence of policies and leaders (personalities)
  • Voters are increasingly likely to change their minds
  • Other factors appear much more important



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