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08 November 2019

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Low-income voters could be a crucial force at the next election, according to landmark research

A landmark report by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) bringing together four years’ worth of political attitudes research shows how low-income voters could prove to be a crucial force at the next election.

Not only are low-income voters now more likely to vote (up by 7% between 2015 and 2017), they have become more willing to switch between parties and between voting and not voting. For example, 59% of low-income voters who did not vote at the 2017 General Election said they now planned to vote at the next one when asked in July 2019.

JRF is calling on all parties to address the core concerns of people struggling to get by, following a subsequent detailed poll of 10,000 low income voters and 5,000 average voters, carried out with Hanbury Strategy in August 2019.

Separate analysis for the report reveals there are 9.5 million low income voters in Great Britain, 2.7 million of whom can be defined as swing voters. At the last election there were 130 seats where the number of low-income swing voters was larger than the majorities achieved.

Research for JRF found high levels of disillusion, distrust and cynicism, with many voters becoming jaded and suspicious over what they see as broken promises, neglect, and a feeling of not being listened to.

Yet this doesn’t diminish people’s strong wish to improve their own prospects and those of their communities. The report also sets out the scope and urgency for all the major parties to make headway with this diverse group of voters. Most are looking for leaders who understand their lives; reflect their values and will tackle the issues that matter most to them and their families.

Questioned on their attitudes to policy, the proposals that edged into the top five for low-income voters were focussed on measures to promote local economic growth, training and job opportunities. [...]

On Brexit, low-income voters largely reflect the national balance between leave and remain. Preferences are similarly split over what should happen next - compared to the UK average voter, low-income voters are slightly more supportive of leaving the EU with no deal (26% to 23%), and less supportive of revoking Article 50 (41% to 43%), but Brexit is not the most important issue to most. [...]

Full report

© Joseph Rowntree Foundation

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