The data behind the “youthquake” that was GE2017

There has been a lot of speculation about the impact of the youth vote on the unexpected General Election shock for Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Weber Shandwick polling with Research Now during the campaign looked at the degree of influence of different channels used during the campaign had on people’s voting intentions.

In this study, 42% of 18-34 year-olds said that discussions about the election grabbed their attention on Facebook compared with 8% of those over 65. The figures for Twitter were 27% and 5% respectively.

In terms of influence, 14% of the younger demographic said that content they saw on Facebook was very likely to influence the way they voted. That figure dropped to 5% for those from 35-44. Almost to make the point, the figures for influence for the older demographics above 44 were too low to be statistically significant.

What’s more, 39% of 18-34 year-olds agreed that they got most of their news via Facebook, versus 3% for those over 65.

But while these figures do show an age bias towards social media influence, the same could be said of more conventional media, such as TV. 54% of those 18-34 said they were quite likely or very likely to be influenced by TV coverage they had seen of the election, including the TV debates. This compares to 31% of those above 65.

Is this a case of young impressionable minds, or simply that people become more fixed in their views as they get older?

Whatever the case, the appetite for and consumption of all media by the younger demographic came through strongly in our study.

People were noticeably critical of politicians who sought to dodge the TV debates, something the Prime Minister was accused of in the course of the campaign. 51% felt it should be compulsory for the party leaders to participate in a TV debate if invited versus 24% who did not. 50% said a head-to-head debate should be compulsory, against 27% who disagreed.

There was a surprising level of attention paid to the manifestos, something Theresa May may now wish had not been the case. Some 41% said they read the manifestos before making up their minds versus 28% who said they did not.

Perhaps this really was the first election in a long time where voters based their decision on the issues.

The survey was conducted amongst a nationally representative UK sample of 1,001 18+ adults. The sample for this study was provided by Research Now using their proprietary online panels. Participants completed the survey between Friday 19th May and Monday 22nd May 2017.