General election 2019: Who are the voters that can’t make up their minds?

A woman walks into a polling station on June 8, 2017 in Saltburn-by-the-Sea Image copyright Getty Images

Will this election be decided by voters yet to make their mind up?

The 2017 election did not turn out the way anyone expected.

When the election was announced, polls showed the Conservatives with a massive lead over Labour.

In the end, the Conservatives lost their majority and there was a hung Parliament.

Support for Labour had steadily increased throughout the campaign.

In 2019, with just over a week to go, could undecided voters make a crucial difference at this late stage?

Is attachment to parties weakening?

It used to be the case that few people changed their minds during election campaigns. Most voters had a long-term stable psychological attachment to a political party and they voted for the same one, election after election.

This no longer seems to be the case. British Election Study data indicates that currently just 16% of Britons feel a very strong party identification. Compare this with the mid-1960s, when almost half of the UK population had a very strong party attachment.

In 1966, only about 13% of voters switched parties between elections. In 2015, that figure was 43% – and in 2017, it was 33%. Overall, across the past three elections, almost half the UK electorate (49%) voted for more than one party.

In 2017, a significant number of voters changed their minds during the campaign itself – and the same may yet happen in 2019.

A recent YouGov poll estimates 13% of the electorate who intend to vote have yet to decide for whom. This group of voters is highly likely to switch parties from last time.

Additionally, a recent Ipsos Mori poll suggested 40% of voters might still change their mind between now polling day:

  • 28% of Conservative supporters
  • 46% of Labour supporters
  • 60% of Liberal Democrat supporters

What about the Brexit effect?

Brexit may well play a part in how undecided voters make up their minds, because identification as leavers or remainers appears to have outstripped party allegiance.

The British Election Study suggests 50% of people across the UK strongly identify with one side of the debate, which Prof Sir John Curtice calls the emotional legacy of Brexit.

 »