Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
In the great game of politics, voters are fickle and fluid, ever-changing and ever-shifting. Parties seek to maintain their core of support from the last election, whilst carving out new coalitions within the electorate.
Voter persistency is a critical measure for a political party, as it tracks what percentage of voters from the previous election still maintain that choice. On the May 2015 website, published by the New Statesmen, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research have compiled polling results from the last parliament. Utilising Tableau, a frankly beautiful data visualisation tool, the reader can drill down into the statistics.
According to the polling company ICM, 98% of Conservative voters from the 2010 May election backed the Conservatives by June. This moving average has subsided slowly and irregularly, with 73% still preferring the party by January 2015. The main recipients of formerly Conservative votes has been the anti-EU party UKIP, with 19%.
Labour have been unable to convince this cohort, failing to gain over 10% at any time during this parliament. However, the social democratic party’s support has been more stable than the centre-right Conservatives, with 80% of their voters repeating thier decision in 2010. 7% of 2010 Labour voters now wish to back UKIP, showing that Nigel Farage’s party can draw approval from both apexes of the traditional political spectrum within Britain. Despite being contained beyond Hadrian’s Wall, the Scottish National Party have managed to drain 5% of Labour’s strength across the nation.
After the election resulted in a hung parliament, the Liberal Democrats agreed to a full coalition with the Conservatives. Unsurprisingly, Liberal Democrat voters from the General Election are much more mercurial. Within the first month, the party had lost 17% of its support. The Liberal Democrat’s voter persistency has continued to degrade, with only 41% of its election backers reaffirmed their choice nearly five years on.
Labour has been the primary vessel for these political pilgrims. According to ICM, the Greens has become more popular with this group: 10% of 2010 Liberal Democrat voters now find solace with the environmentalists. Other polling companies have different estimates for the substantial drain away from Nick Clegg’s party. IpsosMORI have found the Liberal Democrat’s voter persistency is 35%, compared to 33% from Populus and just 25% is suggested by YouGov surveys.
It may be that a significant proportion of the Liberal Democrat’s foundation was fortified by older Labour voters, who had travelled towards the only major party to oppose the Iraq War. A further analysis could illuminate this matter, similar to the British Election Study’s article on UKIP: All Roads Lead to UKIP?
Nevertheless, the voter persistency of Labour and the Conservatives suggest both parties have retained a majority of past endorsements.