Big Issues in the Election Campaign

I’ve picked five issues to track in the lead-up to the election: the Economy, the NHS, Race/Immigration, Unemployment, and Poverty. This is from Ipsos MORI polling data.

The questions were:

Q What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?
Q What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today?

Below you see combined answers as a percentage of respondents.

By the way, until 2014 there was one category, ‘Race Relations/Immigration/Immigrants’, which in 2015 got split into two, one for Race, and one for Immigration. The vast bulk fell onto the Immigration side (an average of 4.25% for Race and 37.25% for Immigration).

Key Issues Facing BritainI have no idea how this relates to the question of why so many people ended up voting Conservative on the day. We’ll have to wait a long time for any good data on that. The growth in concern over the NHS didn’t help Labour – perhaps because of Osborne’s last minute pledge of £8bn. The leveling off of concerns about the economy may have helped the Conservatives. The drop right at the end in concerns about unemployment and poverty were perhaps the effect of more surprise goodies from the Tories just before the election: free childcare for working families, the Right to Buy extension, etc.

The rest is darkness.


One thought on “Big Issues in the Election Campaign

  1. thisguyaresick

    Really interesting data here – it’s hard to know what to make of it (my brain is constructing questionable narratives corresponding to every single spike). A few scattered thoughts:

    1- Race/immigration appears to be most prone to spikes (this accords with how media coverage proceeds on that matter). I wonder whether a subject that is so variable can be very informative for voting patterns, as you have to assume that the half-life of an issue’s significance varies greatly from voter to voter.
    2- There’s a striking downturn in unemployment/poverty just as the economy shoots up. This isn’t repeated elsewhere, and I’d be inclined to suppose that this is particularly informative – it could reflect the last-minute “Forget about jobs and poverty, what if there’s no more money?!” push. If that’s the right way to see it, the change is worrying because it might ultimately suggest an unrealistic level of separation in popular opinion between employment and economy.
    3- It’s interesting that at a few points (e.g. December 2013) everyone seems to care less about everything. I’d like to know what sparks this – is it typically short-term crises that don’t fit into any of the categories, or is it disillusionment that makes people find it harder to come up with things they consider important? A glance at the full data for the month I mentioned brings up no noticeable increase in concern about any issue, yet no increase even in the ‘don’t know’ response. That would suggest that people just typically gave fewer answers to Q2 that time around.
    4- I would’ve liked to see these data compared to the percentages when restricted to Q1. It would be informative to know whether, for instance, the economy functions as a trumping concern that, when it becomes a popular answer to Q1, drives down responses to Q2.

    None of these thoughts are at all conclusive, but I think the question of trumping concerns may turn out to be significant because to get an unpredictable shift in opinion it seems likely that you need not only for an issue to become important throughout the populace but for that issue to push others out.


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