Who are the undecided voters in the general election?

Posted on 05/05/2015


Political polling has taken on an even greater significance in 2015 with the general election being so unpredictable and the media desperate to try and call the final result.

And despite this unpredictability, the polls published in the papers always seem to be so confident. Yet, there is always one striking omission from the numbers: The undecided voters.

Pollsters usually have a formula to predict what will happen to undecided voters on election day, based on varying levels of mathematical wizardry, or they exclude them from the polls. But this group could swing the election and so at Claremont we’ve  worked with market research firm Bilendi to do our own polling* to understand more about the undecided electorate.

Undecided votersThe research shows that with just days to go to polling day 51% of the electorate are undecided or just “tend” toward voting for a party. Excluding non-voters, 16% are undecided and 35% of the electorate only tend to prefer a party.

So who are the 16%?

Compared to the last general election 12% of Labour voters are now undecided, 8% of Tories have shifted position and 15% of Lib Dems now don’t know.

Undecideds are more likely to be younger and female and there are more “don’t knows” in Yorkshire, West Midlands and Wales compared to other parts of the country (Scotland has the least, just one in ten Scots are undecided).

As for the 35% who tend toward one party or another, the results of our polling show that Labour voters are more “strongly” in support of the party (and therefore presumably more likely to turnout) than those from other parties.

This breaks down as follows:

Strongly Conservative 13%
Tend to favour Conservative 13%
Strongly Labour 17%
Tend to favour Labour 11%
Strongly Liberal Democrat 2%
Tend to favour Liberal Democrat 3%
Strongly UKIP 9%
Tend to favour UKIP 6%
Strongly Green 3%
Tend to favour Green 2%
Strongly SNP / Plaid 4%
Tend to favour SNP / Plaid 1%
Undecided 16%
Other 1%

And while the poll results excluding undecided and non-voters (which is what pollsters usually report in the media) puts Labour narrowly ahead of the Conservatives (32% to 31%), 20% of Labour voters in this sample are strongly backing the party, compared to 16% of Conservative voters.

As Helen Ryan from Bilendi commented:

Opinion polls in the run up to the election are a snapshot of voting intention. When it comes to polling day and vagaries of the weather and last minute campaigning, our poll shows that the general election is wide open.

*On 29-30 April 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,000 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Featured image by https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkeane