New data from the British Election Study (BES) released today (7 May) reveals that UKIP’s performance in this May’s European elections is likely to have a significant impact on its support in next year’s General Election.
Professor Jane Green from The University of Manchester and a co-Director of the BES says the 11% of people intending to vote for UKIP in the General Election is only 6 percentage points lower than the Euro Election figure of 17%.
The difference was much bigger in 2009, she says, when the last European elections took place. Then, UKIP secured 16.5% of the European Parliament vote share but only 3.1% in the General election.
The new BES data is released one year from the day that voters go to the polls in the 2015 Westminster general election.
According to Professor Green, the extra votes for UKIP in 2014 appear to be at the expense of the Conservatives, and also, though to a much lesser extent, the Liberal Democrats.
The newly released BES data is based on an online sample of over 20,000 people surveyed during February-March 2014.
It provides a snap-shot of public opinion on the European Parliament elections, the Scottish referendum, and the General Election.
Professor Green said: “Our data show that more than half of people, 57.6%, intending to vote for UKIP in the May 2014 European Parliament election also intend to vote for UKIP in the 2015 general election, whereas the proportion was half that number at 25.5% in 2009.
“UKIP European Parliament voters are also more decided about how they will vote in the General Election next year than they were about the 2010 general election in 2009.
“These findings could have major implications on the UK’s political landscape in 2015 if they are born out in polling stations.”
She added: “Those people who intend to vote UKIP in 2015 are mainly drawn from supporters of the major parties in the last Westminster general election in 2010.
“Of those people intending to vote UKIP in 2015, 44% voted Conservative in 2010, 17% voted Liberal Democrat, 11% voted Labour and 11% didn't vote. 9% voted UKIP.”
The British Election Study data is available on its website, www.britishelectionstudy.com, launched today 7 May. It also reveals:
A referendum on EU membership, were it held tomorrow, would be on a knife edge, finds Professor Green. 40% of people would vote to stay in the EU, while 41% would vote to leave. The battleground will be for the 15% of voters who are currently undecided.
Professor Ed Fieldhouse, University of Manchester, reveals how the North-South divide in British electoral support is widening: 43% of respondents, express an intention to vote Conservative in the South East but this number drops to 15% in Scotland. Labour by contrast enjoys 53% support in the North East, but only 24% in the South East. This divide is uncannily reminiscent of the 1980s following another period of austerity and economic crisis.
Professor Green shows that while 36% of people can see an improvement in the economy, a much larger 77% of people think that the costs of living are still getting worse. And while 77% of people believe the Conservatives are responsible if they think the economy is improving, 63% of those who think the costs of living are worsening blame the Conservatives. These figures suggest that the Conservatives have a long way to go if they are to win significant numbers of votes based on the economic recovery in the 2015 election. However, Labour has not yet convinced voters that it would do any better. While Labour is campaigning hard about the continued costs of living crisis, only 17% who think costs of living are getting worse think things would be better under Labour.
Dr Jon Mellon, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, finds that voters are much less certain about what would happen if Scotland votes for independence (65%) than they are if Scotland remains in the UK (35%), suggesting that for many Scottish voters, a vote for the independence will be a leap into the dark.
Notes for editors
Visit www.britishelectionstudy.com. All new research findings will be posted on 7 May 2015, including additional findings to those summarised here.
Professor Jane Green will addresses a Political Studies Association media briefing on 7 May 2014 @ 09h00 at One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA, where she will present the new findings on UKIP support in the European Parliament election and general election.
The BES is one of the longest running election studies world-wide and the longest running social science survey in the UK. It has made a major contribution to the understanding of political attitudes and behaviour over fifty years.
The 2015 BES is run by a consortium the Universities of Manchester (Professor Ed Fieldhouse, Professor Jane Green and Professor Hermann Schmitt), Oxford (Professor Geoffrey Evans, Nuffield College) and Nottingham (Professor Cees van der Eijk).
Professor Green and Fieldhouse are available for comment.
For media enquiries contact: Mike Addelman Press Officer Faculty of Humanities University of Manchester 0161 275 0790 07717 881567