The myth of Liberal Democrats and young people

Another myth about the Liberal Democrat experience 2010-2015, to add to the one about what voters think of what the Lib Dems did. This time it’s about how tuition fees (which, um, didn’t put people off going to university and for which there wasn’t that much public support for abolishing) didn’t kill the Liberal Democrats amongst young people.

In fact, young people continue to be the age-band most willing to consider voting Liberal Democrat as the new data published by The Times‘s Red Box shows:

YouGov polling on which party people will not vote for

It’s worth adding that there is a similar pattern of the Liberal Democrats doing better the younger people are in the age profiles of party support in more conventional ‘who will you vote for?’ polls.

As for Remain versus Leave voters, this polling shows 47% of Leave voters would definitely never vote Lib Dem but only 24% of Remain voters.

14 responses to “The myth of Liberal Democrats and young people”

  1. It’s still a bit worrying that 24% of remain voters wouldn’t consider the Lib Dems. Possibly die-hard Labour supporters who think Jeremy Corbyn is playing a long game?

    • Or out and out socialists. I don’t know how Neil Kinnock would have answered the questions for sure, but he seems to me to represent a perfectly respectable and consistent mix of being pro-European, socialist and also very unlikely to ever vote Lib Dem. I also think he’s wrong… but that’s another matter!

    • If 72% of young voters *might* vote for us versus 41% of older voters then that would suggests targeting an offer at the young would be more productive. Also the inter-generational wealth divide is already big enough!

    • Research shows older voters (+65) are far more strongly in favour of Brexit than younger people, believe immigration is a problem, are more socially conservative. They are also more set in their voting patterns which were formed 40 years ago and are more likely to have followed their parents “class based” voting patterns in which the Liberals broadly did not feature. We need to understand that there is a broadly “liberal”, rather younger group of the electorate who are open and available to vote for us but currently do not do so or at least not consistently. That is the “core vote” that we need to identify, pitch to consistently and develop. Socially Conservative, pro Brexit voters who are generally more likely to be older are unlikely to be in this core group.

    • Not necessarily – it’s like the old marketing axiom – if you’re trying to market to everyone you’re marketing to no-one. If a significant proportion of older people are not prepared to entertain liberal values then we shouldn’t reduce our appeal to those who do by changing to accommodate the 65+.

  2. What would be even more interesting is the above shown for those who actually bother to vote……. the more advanced in years the higher propensity to vote, and vice versa.

  3. Surely a big call out to young people, who haven’t yet been tribalised, who lean left of centre, predominantly Remain. Coming out of tertiary education or even earlier – at the start of Year One. Not to say we shouldn’t have an offer for older voters of course!

  4. The age thing doesn’t surprise me. I think there may have been a big hit among young people at the time of the tuition fees decision – after all, we’d made a big point of the Pledge in the election and presumably picked up some young votes on the back of it – but once that age-group of students had left university, it seemed to me it was mostly quoted against us by students who’d never vote for us anyway and post-2015 there were signs of a rise in active support in the student age-group, including students. However, for people of all age-groups the U-turn represented what they felt was our unreliability, a serious matter as pre-2010 many people tempted to vote for us saw us as more reliable and genuine than the bigger parties.

  5. I still can’t understand why no-one comes out with the real reason why Jeremy Corbyn wants to leave the EU. If we remain, he and his cohorts will never be able to create a Marxist state in Britain,

    But if he gains a large majority of seats, if not votes, at the next election there is every chance that he can start the process by centralising more power. using the excuse that it is necessary to help the NHS, or nationalise utililities, or whatever is most popular.

    If Llib Dems really take Brexit seriously, we would be proclaiming this at every opportunity

  6. Is an offer to older voters the answer? They may be simply less willing to consider a switch after a lifetime of loyalty, so it may not be about policy. And although Kinnock is super-unlikely to vote Lib Dem (at least partly due to his lifetime of Labour immersion and the fact he was party leader), he did and would always vote Remain, and for liberal policies on equal marriage etc, which amounts to a very strong compatibility. If anything our message to olders of which I’m one, is break free, do your own thing! Ditch the landline, the slippers and the party.

  7. I am mildly surprised about the 25-49 age group figures. Here in Haringey, they are more likely than other age groups to be motivated by self-interest in their voting patterns and therefore to have less strong party allegiance and to be more interested in policies when choosing who to vote for. I’d have expected the figures for 25-49 to be more like those for 18-24 group. It is the 50+ here that are immovably left-wing.
    Also, could the 65+ groups have problems with our social and cultural liberalism?

  8. It is all very interesting looking at the various comments about pitching for ” other Party ” votes.
    When Matthew Green took Ludlow constituency from the Conservatives it was because they had an unpopular candidate that they did not like at all and rather than vote for another party they stayed at home. I am inclined to think that that remains the case amid the 55+ age group all over the country. The more we paint them as incompetent and untrustworthy at every level the more they will stay at home rather than bring themselves to break the habit of a lifetime and vote for any one else .
    When the Cons took the seat back after they threw the kitchen sink at the constituency Matthews vote was higher than when he won the seat but the Cons were motivated enough to come out and vote again.

  9. I think tuition fees are definitely an issue for those directly affected by the fees hike, most of whom are in that 25-49 bracket.

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