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Influences on Voting Behaviour

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Introduction

Four types of voters are: o Loyal voters - remain loyal to one political party and always vote for that party. o Floating voters - people who vote for one party at one election and another at a later election. o Abstainers - people who don't vote at all. o Tactical voters - people who adopt a strategy in deciding who to vote for rather than automatically voting for their first choice. What factors affect voting? o Social class - up until the 1970's social class was considered to be the single most important influence on voting behaviour in Britain. Support for the two main parties was based broadly on social class. Working class people tended to vote labour while middle class people tended to vote conservative. o Age and gender - in the 1992 general election slightly more women than men voted conservative and slightly more men voted labour. In 1997 general election however there was virtually no difference in the way men and women voted. Traditionally young people have been more likely to vote labour and older people have been more inclined to vote conservative. o Ethnicity - sociologists point to the important link between ethnicity and voting behaviour. In 1992 general election, 90% of voters from an African Caribbean background and 71% of voters from an Asian background voted labour. ...read more.

Middle

Political parties now employ media advisors and 'spin doctors' whose job it is to try to 'manage' news. The role of the mass media is particularly important during general election campaigns. In general terms, we can say that, since 1945, the press have been more supportive of the Conservatives than of Labour. During the 1992 general election campaign, five out of six national tabloid newspapers supported the Conservative Party. The Sun's front page headline read: 'If Neil Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?' Once the Conservative Party's victory was announced, The Sun headline stated: 'It's the Sun wot won it.' During the 1997 general election, however, newspaper coverage was more in favour of new Labour. For example, The Sun announced its support for Blair and new Labour with 'The Sun Backs Blair' headline, while a total of six national dailies backed on The Labour Party. Research evidence on the impact of the media on voting behaviour during an election campaign is not clear cut. It is also necessary to consider the long-term 'drip, drip, drip' effect of the media rather than just looking at the short-term impact of the media during elections. What are the trends in voting behaviour since the 1950s? Since the 1950s, a number of trends in support for the political parties can be identified. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mr Blue, who would have voted Conservative, may now switch to the Liberal Democrats in order to try to defeat the Labour Party. Such voting behaviour is known as tactical voting, in which voters do not vote for the party of their first preference. Instead, they vote for the party which they least dislike in order to keep a third party out. If an opinion poll suggests that one party is likely to get a large majority, then some of its supporters may not bother vote. They abstain from voting because the outcome of the election may seem to be inevitable. If this happens on a large scale then the party which was predicted to win may do less. When the results of an opinion poll are published, the 'bandwagon effect' may occur. Some of us may jump on the bandwagon and vote for the party which the opinion poll predicts will win. If this happens then the opinion poll has done more than a prediction- it has actually influenced the outcome of the election. In the 1997 general election, many of the problems associated with opinion polls seem to have been ironed out. The pollsters' results were considered to be close to the final result. Over 40 surveys were carried out during the campaign and all but two were within three points of the actual outcome. Political Socialization Socialization refers to the process whereby we learn the culture and way of life of our society. ...read more.

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