Ukip has doubled its support amongst under 34 year olds in one year to rival the Liberal Democrats for the “Generation Y” vote, and is rapidly chasing down the Green party in that demographic too. But Labour still leads the field, despite their support amongst young people falling away according to a poll by Ipsos Mori.
The Conservatives also saw their Gen Y support collapse in the last year, falling by one fifth to 15.6 percent. Labour’s support from the under 34s dropped from 33.9 in 2013 to 26.2 last year, but they still command the most support in that age group.
Those moving away from the traditional parties transferred their support evenly between the Green Party and Ukip – both rose 3.2 percentage points between 2013 and 2014. As they started on a higher base, the Greens are still slightly ahead, attracting 6.9 percent of the under 34 vote, against Ukip’s 5.6 percent. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have remained essentially stagnant within that age group, rising ever so slightly from 5.5 percent in 2013 to 6.1 percent last year.
Generation Y voters were the most likely to be undecided, with 22 percent saying that they had still not made up their minds on who to vote for in May. Notably, that figure is up four percent on the previous year; they were the only age group more likely to be undecided in 2014 than they were in 2013.
The polling firm analysed interviews with half a million people to identify generation shifts in voting intentions over nearly 20 years, from 1996 to 2014. It tracked four cohorts: the pre-war generation, baby boomers, Generation X who were born between 1966 and 1979, and Generation Y, born in 1980 or later.
There is a strong divide between the different age groups on voting intentions: Labour still commands a strong lead amongst the under 48 year olds, falling into the Gen X and Gen Y categories, whilst those in the pre war and baby boomer generations were more likely to back the Conservatives.
But support for Ed Miliband’s party dropped by 15 percent overall in every age group other than the over 69 year olds, where their support remained unchanged. By contrast, the Conservatives support rose in every age group other than the under 34s.
Ukip draws most of its support from the older generations too – 12.2 percent of those born before 1945, and 12.7 of those born between 1945 and 1965 are voting for Nigel Farage’s party. But, reflecting the national headline polls, the party has seen a strong increase in support across all age groups as it continues to make its case as an alternative to the “establishment” parties.
Conversely, the Green party does best with younger voters. Fewer than two percent of the pre-war generation back Natalie Bennett’s party, whilst their support rises to seven percent amongst the under 34 year olds. And amongst the under 24 year olds their support really takes off, rising to level pegging with the Conservatives on 22 percent, leaving Ukip far behind.
But the youth vote is still less likely to be courted as they show less inclination towards turning up the ballot box. Only four in ten of the Gen Y cohort said they were likely to vote at the next election in May, compared to seven in ten of those born before 1965. And the under 34s were the only group to lose interest in voting as we near the election: 12 percent now say they will not vote in May, compared to 10 percent in 2013.
Yet the key to securing the young vote is unlikely to be as straightforward as simply winning back trust. Although just under 20 percent of under 34s would trust a politician to tell the truth, they represent the high point of trust in politicians; fewer than one in ten over 69 year olds would trust a politician not to lie.