The Additional Member System gives voters more choice and better representation than does First Past the Post.
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We are going to focus on voter behaviour & political attitudes instead.
Higher Modern Studies 29 May 2008 Influences on Voting Behaviour
A possible question could be To what extent has social class influenced voting behaviour in recent elections (15 marks) OR Social class is no longer a significant factor in shaping political attitudes. Discuss (15 marks) OR EVEN Critically examine the importance of the media in influencing voter behaviour . (15 marks)
There are a number of factors that have been argued to have an influence on how we vote.
Social class, age, gender, ethnicity,
But voting patterns are changing and other factors are becoming increasingly important Party affiliation, image & personalities, issues And a major source of political information for voters is The media – TV, newspapers, internet, PEBs, spin
Many candidates answers concentrate on C R A P S Class Race Age Place Sex
Good answers should include
Personality & Image Issues Media Party affiliation
Remember to PIMP And there’s no excuse for writing just CRAP .
Does Age Matter? Pensioners are more likely to vote Tory. Labour has “won” in every other age group in the last 4 general elections. 2005 voting pattern: Over 65’s are also more likely to vote, 75% turnout in 2005 compared to 37% of 18 -24 yr olds. Engaging young voters may decide future elections. 18 35 42 65+ 22 38 33 35-64 26 42 24 25-34 26 42 24 18-24 LibDem Labour Tory Age Group
Does Sex matter? Nowadays there are no significant differences between male and female voting patterns! In 2005 38% of both male and female voters voted Labour 33% of men and 32% of women voted Conservative! In the past more men voted Labour and more women voted Tory however the gap has steadily closed and there has been no significant difference in the last 3 elections.
What about where I live? There is a clear North/South divide in UK voting which has been evident over several elections. Labour are stronger in Scotland, Northern England, and the Midlands. Tories are strong in Southern England But there are also strong regional variations e.g. Scotland is a 4 party contest. And voting patterns could be explained by social class – the Labour vote is still strongest in areas where there is a larger working class population
Is Race an issue ? Ethnic Minorities: 7.9 % of UK population In 2005 approximately 60% of BMEs voted Labour. 10% voted Conservative. 15% voted Liberal Democrat. but the pattern is not even 80% of Afro-Caribbean’s voted Labour. The Asian vote for Labour fell and more voted LD Could Social Class be the real explanation? There are more social class ABs among the Asians Or age and issues? LD’s gained votes among young BME voters with their strong anti-Iraq war stance. Labour’s immigration policy was a vote loser amongst the BME’s
It used to be the most important factor in voting behaviour reason up until the 1970’s.
It has become less important thanks to DEALIGNMENT.
There is still some residual class loyalty among voters but it is no longer a reliable predictor of voting intentions.
Social Class Refer to AB’s (professional and managerial), C1’s, C2’s, D’s and E’s. DO NOT talk about the “upper class”!
Voting by Social Class 2005 1966 ABs still more likely to vote Tory DEs still more likely to vote Labour But voters are more volatile and parties no longer have clear class based manifestoes. 24 32 37 AB 19 45 28 DE 18 43 32 C2 24 35 34 C1 Lib Dem Lab Tory Class 12 14 74 AB 7 66 27 DE 8 60 32 C2 11 30 59 C1 Lib Dem Lab Tory Class
Dealignment –What’s that?
Social class structure has changed since the 1970’s
Old heavy industry has gone – the traditional ‘working class’ is disappearing
new service jobs have taken over – the middle class is growing.
Old Labour lost their traditional “working class” voters (C2s & DEs) Tories lost much of their traditional support among the C1s & ABs New Labour attracted new middle class voters ( C1s & ABs) And LibDems have made recent gains across all classes Voters are now willing to change their alignments
Party Affiliation then? Dealignment means long term commitment or affiliation to one party has disappeared over the last 30-40years. Electoral Volatility = More Floating Voters In 2005 36% of voters were willing to change their mind about which party they would support. If there are more “floating voters” out there, then they can be influenced in other ways In a pre-election poll in 2005 13% of voters were undecided. It would only have needed a 10% swing to the Tories for them to win
So …. age matters, but sex no longer matters, race and place could be linked to class and class is much less important What are the new influences ?
Have Image & Personality become more important? In a 2005 MORI poll 31% of voters felt party leadership was the most important influence on how they vote compared with 24% who felt they identified with a party. Image as a strong leader with lots of personality now seems to count for more than honesty or being able to relate to voters. 7 30 36 Out of touch 31 9 10 Honest 13 6 25 Lots of personality 11 12 24 Understands world problems 18 18 34 Capable leader Kennedy Howard Blair
Do we care about the Issues?
Although Party Leader has become more important than Party
Affiliation for voters, Party Policy on issues has become a key
54% of voters in 2005 stated that policy on National issues was very
important to them
45% felt policy on Local issues was very important to them
How well a party is believed to handle key issues can influence elections.
50% Law & Order 62% Education 73% Health Most Important Election Issue 2005 +4 +22 Law & Order +9 +27 +39 Education +13 +28 +49 Health 2005 2001 1997 Issue Labour Lead on Key Issues (%) 2005
Newspapers are an important source of political information Newspapers are partisan – The Sun = Labour The Daily Express = Tory Readers may be influenced by the views of their daily newspaper Political Parties recognise the importance of the newspapers - Rupert Murdoch ‘courted’ by Labour, News of the World sex offender campaign led to legislative change BUT Only 10% of people believe newspapers influence their vote 41% of Sun readers voted Labour in 2005 as did 23% of Financial Times readers although both papers support Labour – support for a party does not always translate into votes. Is the Media behind it all?
TV has the potential to be a significant influence on the voting public. The average UK citizen watches 25.2 hours of TV a week 51% of adults consider TV to be their main source of political information TV is regulated and impartial – the public trust TV reporting of politics Parties spend a great deal of time & money managing their TV image BUT Over half of voters claim to have already made up their minds about how they will vote before the campaign Nearly half of voters say they pay little attention to political news coverage TV may only serve to confirm the views of the voting viewers However it only takes a small number of voters changing their mind to swing an election
Party Election Broadcasts were watched by 58% of voters in 2005 More than 50% of voters felt PEBs had influenced them PEBS are popular but they may only confirm existing views Political parties recognise the importance of the media In 2005 the Labour Government employed 72 special advisors (Spin Doctors) - at a cost of £5.5million During the campaign Labour paid £530,000 to a ‘Special Advisor and the Tories paid £441,146 The Parties certainly think Spin works But do they directly influence voters opinions?
Election Posters 2005
No-one knows for sure if poster and PEB campaigns work
They may just reinforce some voters views.
They may help in reminding voters about the other parties’ weaknesses.
They often focus on personalities
BUT – Parties spend £££millions on them
Election spending 2005 Conservatives: £17.8m Labour: £17.9m Source BBC interactive
Social class is no longer a significant factor in shaping political attitudes. Discuss (15 marks)
Class is no longer as significant – dealignment
Residual class loyalty may explain the influence of Location & Race BUT Issues may also be the explanation
Age matters & disengagement of the young may influence future election outcomes
Increased voter volatility has increased the significance of other factors to take the place of class
Strong party leadership image matters more than honesty & reliability or alignment with a party
Policy on key issues can swing elections
The Media has huge potential to influence voters
Partisan press, public trust in TV, popularity of PEBs
An important source of political info for voters which is recognised by parties
BUT the media may only confirm views rather than shape them
HOWEVER it only needs to influence a few to swing an election
Summary Many different factors affect voting behaviour! Social Class is still evident in voting but it is no longer hugely significant BUT as more Floating Voters appear Personality, Image, Issue and the Media can have a bigger impact.