One in ten voters could be voting tactically in the general election

The latest YouGov poll, for the Sunday Times, suggests that 12% of voters could be voting for a party that is not their first choice.

Overall the poll gave the following results for voting intentions across the country:

Conservatives 34%. Labour 32%. UKIP 14%. Liberal Democrats 9%. Greens 6%.

The poll suggests that with mere days to go until the election the two main parties are still neck and neck.

However, one of the interesting things about this poll was that it asked about tactical voting, more specifically, the following question:

“Is the party you intend to vote for your first choice of party, or are you voting for a party that isn't your first choice in order to stop a party you like even less?”

A total of 74% said that they were intending to vote for the party that is their first choice, however, 12% said that their chosen party was not their first choice, but that they have a better chance of beating a party that they liked even less. 14% said they were not sure.

In one of the closest elections in decades this 12%, if accurate, is a significant chunk of the electorate. It could even be decicive as the prospect of another hung parliament looms in the air.

In further detail:

  • 9% of those intending to vote Labour could be voting tactically.
  • 12% of those voting Conservative.
  • 20% of those voting Lib Dem.
  • 14% of those voting UKIP.

The Liberal Democrat sample is small, but could show that whilst many people have rejected the party they are still seen as the lesser of a few evils.

As for the regional breakdown, whilst the average share of those intending to vote tactically in England and Wales is 11%, the figure in Scotland is 17%. Like the Lib Dem sample the Scotland sample is smaller so there is likely to be more of an error, but it could suggest that some voters are intending to vote tactically against the SNP.

This is backed up by the next question, which asks:

“In the previous question you said you were voting for a party that is not your first choice in order to stop a party you like even less. Which party are you voting to try and stop?”

10% of everyone voting tactically said that they were voting this way to keep out the SNP. 31% said they were voting to keep out Labour, whilst 44% said they were voting for another party to keep out the Conservatives. Furthermore, 7% said they were voting in such a way to keep out UKIP, and 2% were doing so to keep out the Liberal Democrats.

The fact that 12% could be voting tactically is interesting, but is yet another sign that the UK’s electoral system is becoming unfit for purpose. Ideally, everyone should be able to vote for who they really want with the chance that they could win one of many seats in a multi-member constituency, but first-past-the-post will not allow this.

Instead come May, we will likely end up with a parliament which fails to reflect the true voting intentions of the nation.

See the full results of the poll here. 2,271 GB adults were questioned between the 24th and 25th April.


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