How likely are people to vote in Cambridge?

As well as giving us headline numbers for the General Election race, Lord Ashcroft’s recent Cambridge poll contains a luscious cornucopia of other psephological data. Thanks to the British Polling Council, all reputable pollsters now publish full data tables for all their polls, and of course Lord Ashcroft is no exception. Here’s a look at just one aspect of this data – how likely people are to vote in the General Election in Cambridge.

The poll asked respondents to rate how likely they are to vote on a scale of one to ten, with ten being “certain to vote” and one being “definitely would not vote”. Here are the results by gender:

Here the darkest colour represents those answering “ten” – just over half of both men and women – down to the lightest colour for those answering “one” – 8% of women and 14% of men. There’s not a huge difference between the two; perhaps women are fractionally more likely to vote – or to say that they are going to, at least – but this is well within the margin of error. However, there is a much more noticeable patten when we look at the numbers by age group:

Over 80% of the 65+ age group said they were certain to vote, compared with just 28% of the 18-24 year olds. In general, the older you get, it seems, the greater the chance that you’ll get to the polling station or return a postal vote; if younger people have more starry-eyed idealism, it doesn’t seem to be manifesting itself in engagement with our democratic system. However, this doesn’t mean that the next Cambridge MP will be mainly chosen by the over-45s; here is the same data scaled to show the number of Cambridge people in each age group:

The relatively youthful demographic of our city goes some way to counterbalance the greater turnout among older people.

What about social class? Pollsters categorise this using NRS social grades, classifying people as A, B, C1, C2, D or E, based on occupation. Broadly speaking, it’s the middle classes, particularly the ABs, who are more likely to vote than the working classes.

In any case, Cambridge is a pretty middle-class city; here is the same data showing the total numbers in each category:

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Finally, what about likelihood to vote by party preference? This could be a key factor in determining the outcome of the General Election contest in Cambridge. Here’s the graph:

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The most obvious feature here is that it’s UKIP supporters who are least likely to turn out, perhaps because they are more disaffected, or perhaps because of UKIP’s relatively slim chances of victory in Cambridge. Amongst the other parties, it seems that the Lib Dem supporters rate their likelihood of voting most highly, but there’s not a huge amount in it. Of course, in the weeks that remain before polling day, the various party activists will be doing all they can to increase the numbers of their supporters who do actually make it to the polls.

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