Ipsos Mori has put out some fascinating data on the voting patterns and choices of 18-34 year olds. Over the course of the past year, UKIP, the Greens, and even the Lib Dems have made modest gains in support amongst this age group. Meanwhile, both the Tories and Labour have seen their support from “Generation Y” dwindle in the same period.
Between 2013 and the end of 2014, Labour lost almost 8% support amongst this age group. The Tories lost almost 5% – but proportionally, the Conservative Party are somewhat worse off having had much less support within this subset to begin with. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems are up 0.6%, the Greens 3.2% and UKIP 3.2% as well.
Looking at the latter numbers: UKIP gaining amongst this group of people goes against the narrative that the Kippers only pull their numbers via pensioners. The Lib Dems have seen their polling numbers over all age groups fall during this period by about 4-5%, so to gain amongst young people – who we are constantly told have “written off” the party – is actually impressive (although you’d never know it from the Guardian article covering this information). As for the Greens: to only have gained 3.2% amongst 18-34 year olds during a period that has seen their largest polling increase ever is somewhat strange. I would have expected this number to have been in double digits. Perhaps the stereotype of the typical Green supporter is misplaced.
I suppose the interesting question to come out of this Ipsos Mori poll is: will the young people of today drift back to either Labour or the Tories as they get older? This is impossible to say one way or another. But seeing the drift in people under 35 away from the traditional big two does suggest that the break up of the duopoly does have roots that are getting stronger, not weaker.
Of course, we could have a realignment of politics, in which the two largest parties simple re-jig themselves in a way that satisfies the 19% of 18-34 year olds who say they plan to vote for someone other than Labour or the Tories at present. Another thing: within this poll, 26% of people said they’d vote Labour, 15.6% Tory. I can imagine many of you are doing the maths in your head: that means the “I don’t know” bunch within this age group is a whopping 40-odd percent. When “none of the above” is the clear frontrunner amongst everyone below 35, you really do have to wonder what the future of politics will look like.