Explaining Voting Behaviour

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Since the 1950s, many factors that political scientists have used to explain voting behaviour have altered in significance. Factors such as class and gender have diminished in their propensity to dictate voting behaviour since the mid 20th century, with some political scientists arguing that this has contributed to a climate of partisan de-alignment among modern British voters. In place of these traditional explanations of voting behaviour, some now point to heightened electoral volatility and the rise in issue voting when explaining the vote shares of parties in the contemporary British context. In this essay, I will argue that many of the traditional factors used to explain voting behaviour – such as class and gender – have, although still…show more content…
Firstly, some political scientists have questioned the representativeness of BES studies altogether (Mellon & Prosser 2015), which would cast doubt upon the usefulness of Figure 1. Furthermore, looking more closely at the Figure 1, what can be seen is that while Labour has increased its share of the vote with the wealthier classes, the amount of votes gained from the lowest two classes – the ‘Unskilled Working Class’ and ‘Skilled Working Class’ groups – has remained relatively steady over the time period. Hence, there is evidence to suggest that modern political parties still do better with the class they traditionally represented, even after Labour’s move to the centre ideologically. Therefore, while social class has certainly diminished in significance over the time period, it remains a somewhat important factor in explaining voting…show more content…
Commenting on UKIP’s popularity gain in the 2014 European election, Cushion (Cushion et al 2015: 320) attributes UKIP’s success in the election to be a result of the growth in the significance of issue voting. This is suggested in Figure 4, where the two most covered issues by television news agencies were policies both central to UKIP’s manifesto. Cushion argues that UKIP’s heavy concentration in the media contributed to their victory in the European election (Cushion et al 2015: 321). Considering UKIP’s lack of a traditional partisan base of voters, it can be concluded that their ability to win the majority of votes in the 2014 European election was most likely owing to their ability to resonate with British voters, who are now less partisan and more inclined to vote based on how a party deals with one or two key salient issues, on the matters of immigration and the EU independence
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