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Context

Using the General Election 2017 as an example, YouGov believe that Young people voted for Labour whereas the older generation voted for The Conservative party.

YouGov polls for voting in GE2017 by age demographic

It seems to me that from the most recent election this could be true, but I'm looking for history to tell a story and I can't seem to find any hard evidence/studies of this demographic.

Note: These assumptions are based solely on the most recent election in the UK.


Question

Does the UK electorate become more likely to vote conservative with age?


Notes:

  • The answer should include evidence over a prolonged period of time (two elections cycles or more if possible) - or studies evaluating that fact.
  • My definition of Conservative would align into Conservatism or Toryism
  • 1
    Part of the problem is that it's not just the individual persons' views shift; it's a definition of what's "conservative" vs. not. In USA, at least; overall positions on average solidly shift more towards liberal; especially socially but also fiscally (if your recall, Barak Obama when elected didn't support gay marriage; Bill Clinton never did. Now, Trump supports it. general population support pretty much skyrocketed over last 50 years). – user4012 Jun 14 '17 at 12:05
  • @user4012 I may just narrow it down to the UK for now then and voting patterns as such, to avoid any ambiguity on the topic. I feel The Conservative Party will hold more conservative values than Labour over a prolonged period of time rather than the complexities of the US regarding democrats and republicans and their alignment/shifting of views. – Bradley Wilson Jun 14 '17 at 12:09
  • 3
    You do realize the people represented in the charts are not the same people; and if you were to track the same people, they would not be voting for the same politicians nor the same policies, even if the party names stayed the same... – einpoklum Jun 14 '17 at 12:12
  • @einpoklum I'm looking for studies on patterns not specific people. – Bradley Wilson Jun 14 '17 at 12:13
  • 2
    Relevant quote: quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/24/heart-head – Andrew Grimm Jun 15 '17 at 2:34
5

Yes.

The UK has a secret ballot, so it's impossible to get "hard evidence" of how everyone actually voted. The best you can do is ask a representative subset of voters, as YouGov did. High quality opinion polling is the gold standard of data for voter breakdown by age, party support, and other criteria.

This site has a breakdown of voter data between 1974 and 2010.

  • Looking at the 55+ age group, the Conservatives had higher support than Labour, in every election except the Labour landslide of 1997. This includes the 2001 and 2005 elections, both of which Labour won comfortably despite their lack of support from older voters.

  • Conversely, support for Labour is higher in the 18-34 age group than in 55+ by at least 9 points (2010), and at most 24 (2001).

We can conclude that yes, older voters do skew more conservative than the general population.

  • 1
    Just to be clear, this data does not really squarely answer the question of whether older voters have political views similar to those that they held when they were younger (whatever party espoused them) when their political views were established in the first place, or whether as a result of growing older their youthful political views become more conservative through the experience of life (often claimed but not very strongly supported empirically). – ohwilleke Jun 27 '17 at 16:21
  • There is also a potential confounder in that older people who vote may be the ones who are a) still alive, and b) have property and privileges that they think the Conservatives will protect. – James Aug 26 '19 at 11:47

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