Why didn’t sleaze stories hurt the Tories more in this year’s elections?

Why didn’t the Conservatives appear to take that much of an electoral hit last week from the run of recent sleaze stories? Polling analysis newly released by YouGov gives some strong clues:


One group we have seen move away from the Conservatives in the last three weeks, however, is the very politically engaged. As well as weighting by demographic and past voting behaviour to ensure our samples are representative of the overall public, YouGov also weights by how much attention they pay to politics on a scale of 0 to 10. Anyone who self-reports themselves as an 8, 9 or 10 out of 10, we define as having a high political attention. Anyone answering 3-7 is defined as medium attention and 0-2 is low attention.

Amongst those who self-report paying a high level of attention to politics, our poll just two days before the local elections showed a five-point lead for Labour (38% to 33%). This was in stark contrast to the rest of our sample, which showed a 15-point lead for the Conservatives (46% to 31%), averaging out at an overall Conservative 10-point lead.

Looking at the trend over the last month, we also see two completely different stories depending on whether people are engaged in politics or not. There has been a dramatic shift amongst those with a self-reported political attention of 8/10 or higher, with the Conservatives collapsing from a 17-point lead on 13 April to a five-point Labour lead in early May. Amongst those with a political attention of 7/10 or lower, voting intention is virtually unchanged over this time.

In other words, sleaze probably did hit the Conservatives, but with only the aytpical chunk of the electorate who follow politics closely.