One of the great strengths of the polling firm MORI is that they have consistently asked the same questions over decades, making comparisons across elections, decades and even generations possible.* One of these comparisons over time that has caught my eye is the level of public interest in elections:
Thinking back to the campaign, how interested would you say you were in news about the General Election?
1992: 52% very or fairly interested
2010: 75% very or fairly interested
That is a big increase in the level of declared public interest in election news. Turnout, however, was 78% in 1992, falling to 65% in 2010 even though both were elections which, ahead of polling day, were seen as close and without a sure overall winner.
It’s certainly a bit of a conundrum as to why people would be more interested in news about the election during the campaign but less likely to vote. So over to you for suggestions…
* The usual caveat about changing methodology applies, though as any polling firm always tries to have a methodology that works for how people are currently behaving, and so changing methodology over time is the right response to changing public behaviour, this is less of an issue than changing question wording. That’s because even small changes in the wording of questions can produce big differences in results regardless of other methodological considerations. A good example in the last Parliament was the leader ratings by YouGov, who used different wordings for different clients and got consistently different results, even though all the rest of the methodology was the same. Hence MORI’s consistent wording is a major boon.