100 days on Saga reveals that fewer than one-in-five over 50s were swayed by election campaign millions

Wednesday 18 August 2010

100 days on Saga reveals that fewer than one-in-five over 50s were swayed by election campaign millions

Millions of pounds worth of General Election campaign cash was wasted on the over 50s with just 17% of older voters switching support despite the massive efforts of politicians.

Independent research commissioned by Saga - the travel, lifestyle and financial services organisation – indicates that not only was there little vote switching, but the older generation turned out at the polls in much greater numbers than expected, and had decided which way to vote long before the campaigns hit full steam.

Saga Populus Panel research before the General Election indicated that 80% of the Saga Generation were likely to vote at the General Election, but 94% said that they voted. The overall national turnout was just 65.1%.

“The political classes need to be aware that the over 50s form the majority of those who vote and their opinions must count if they yearn for elected office. They may vote quietly – but they mark with a very firm cross” said Emma Soames, editor at large for Saga Magazine.

“All the political parties put a huge amount of effort into campaigning in the run up to the General Election, but most of the Saga Generation had made their mind up at very early on – perhaps illustrating that a the actions of recent years speak louder than the words of campaigning.

“The older they are, the less likely to be swayed by campaigning: just 14% of those aged 75 over changed their voting intention, compared with 23% of those aged 50-54.

“But with AV on the cards, politicians may want to note that the Conservatives had the most loyal supporters – with 90% of those who intended to vote Conservative at the start of the campaign actually voting Conservative on May 6. The General Election campaign saw 6% of initial Tory pledges vote Liberal Democrats, 2% UKIP and 1% to Labour.

“Labour support, weak at the start of the campaign, got worse as only 77% of those who had said they would vote Labour ended the campaign putting their cross in Labour’s box. They lost 17% to the Liberal Democrats, 4% to the Conservatives and 1% to UKIP.

“81% of Liberal Democrat pledges voted Liberal Democrat – though 10% were persuaded to go with Mr Cameron, 5% went with Labour, 2% to UKIP and 1% Green.

“But the Green Party was the only one to lose the majority of their voters pledges during the campaign. Despite winning their first seat in Parliament only 41% of those that indicated they were going to vote Green actually went into the voting booth and voted in that way. In what was probably a tactical move 37% voted Lib Dem, whilst 9% went with Labour, 7% Conservative, 2% UKIP and 1% Plaid Cymru.”

The Saga Populus Panel is the largest panel surveying the views of Britons aged 50 and over. The survey results are from 13,800 people aged 50 and over conducted between May 14, 2010, and May 21, 2010.

-ENDS-

Research summary.

Whilst a third of people (36%) said they enjoyed the spectacle of a hung Parliament – perhaps because of the obvious discomfort of the politicians, nearly two thirds (63%) said that a hung Parliament made Parties less accountable for delivering what was in their manifestoes.

Saga Populus Panel research before the General Election indicated that 80% of the Saga Generation were likely to vote at the General Election. However, the campaign galvanised opinion and 94% said that they voted; this compares with the overall national turnout of just 65.1%.

The political classes need to be aware that the over 50s form the majority of those who vote and their opinions must count if they yearn for elected office. They may speak quietly – but they carry a big stick.

All Political Parties put a lot of effort into campaigning in the run up to the General Election - but most people have made their mind up at the start of the campaign. Despite the millions spent by political parties on the campaign only 17% of the over 50s say they voted for a Party other than the one they had initially wanted to vote for at the outset of the campaign. Older voters are less prone to be influenced by the General Election campaign – just 14% of those aged 75 over changed their voting intention, compared with 23% of those aged 50-54.

With the potential of the AV voting system psephologists will be interested in where people’s second votes may go. Whilst not directly relevant some useful insight might be drawn from research Saga did into the stickiness of the Parties vote.

The Conservatives had the most loyal supporters – with 90% of those who intended to vote Conservative at the start of the campaign voting Conservative on May XXX. The General Election campaign saw 6% of initial Tory pledges vote Liberal Democrats, 2% UKIP and 1% to Labour.

Labour support, weak at the start of the campaign, got worse as only 77% of those who had said they would vote Labour ended the campaign putting their cross in Labour’s box. They lost 17% to the Liberal Democrats, 4% to the Conservatives and 1% to UKIP.

81% of Liberal Democrat pledges voted Liberal Democrat – though 10% were persuaded to go with Mr Cameron, 5% went with Labour, 2% to UKIP and 1% Green.

The Green Party were the only Party that lost the majority of their pledges during the campaign. Despite winning their first seat in Parliament only 41% of those that indicated they were going to vote Green actually went into the voting booth and voted in that way. In what was probably a tactical move 37% voted Lib Dem, whilst 9% went with Labour, 7% Conservative, 2% UKIP and 1% Plaid Cymru.

UKIP held onto 65% of their prospective votes with 25% voting Tory; curiously 6% went to the Lib Dems and 3% Labour.

The BNP held onto to just 61% of their initial support – 15% went to UKIP, 7% each to the Lib Dem and Conservatives and 2% to Labour.

SNP support was solid with 87% of supporters remaining firm – they lost 7% to the Lib Dems and 3% each to Labour and the Conservatives.

Plaid Cymru – were less successful than their fellow separatists – they held onto just 67% of their initial support – 17% went to the Liberal Democrats, 9% to the Conservatives and 7% to Labour.

For more information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529

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