Tracking voters in 2010 and 2015


If anyone is still interested in mulling over the results of the General Election, this is some analysis that helps to answer two questions: which parties did 2010 voters choose in 2015? And the subtly different question: who had 2015 voters chosen in 2010? I am looking at the proportion of each party’s total vote in each case. (Thanks to David Howarth for pointing me towards the underlying data, following my previous column on this topic).

Firstly, where did the 2010 voters go? This reveals that Conservatives and Labour held onto a very similar proportion of their voters (75-76%). At the other end of the spectrum the Liberal Democrats and, more surprisingly, the Greens held on to less than a third of their voters. Even more surprising for the latter was that 15% of those who voted Green in 2010 switched to the Conservatives in 2015.

Labour attracted 33% of 2010’s Green voters and 24% of Plaid Cymru’s. Another figure that stands out is that only 55% of UKIP’s 2010 voters stayed with the party in 2015; UKIP seems to have quite a soft core vote.

For the Lib Dems, more of their 2010 supporters voted Labour in 2015 (30%) than stayed with the party (29%). An equal proportion shifted to UKIP and the Greens (9% each), leaving a significant 17% moving to the Conservative party. Keeping such different strands of the party’s support together looks to be like herding cats.

Secondly, where did 2015 voters come from? This shows the importance to the Labour party of former Lib Dem voters, representing 20% of the latter’s voters in 2015. Having said this, deserting Lib Dems were even more useful for Plaid (forming 24% of their vote) and for the Greens (a massive 53% of their vote).

Less surprising was that UKIP’s 2015 vote included 38% of former Conservative voters, while the SNP’s vote was boosted with one third made up of former Labour voters. UKIP’s relatively poor voter retention but strong new voter attraction resulted in just 10% of its 2015 voters had also voted for the party in 2010.

Lastly, it is worth noting that UKIP’s vote included 11% who did not vote in 2010, the same proportion as the Greens and not significantly greater than the Lib Dems, Labour or the SNP. Reaching out to huge swathes of new voters looks to be trickier than some would imagine.

Note that this data only looks at those 2010 voters who actually voted in 2015.


* Ed Moisson joined the Liberal Democrats on 2nd June 2015

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Paul Holmes 27th Sep '15 - 1:23pm

    Some really interesting stats here thanks.

    You mention ‘herding cats’ in terms of where our 2010 voters went and more than a few commentators have made disparaging comments about our lack of a core vote.

    But another interesting stat is that roughly speaking at the 10 General Elections from Feb 1974-2010 we averaged a little under 20% of the vote compared to an average of a little over 7% in the 8 General Elections from 1945-1970. So in terms of a broad appeal to the electorate something was being done right over the 36 years from 1974-2010.

    Maybe some would say our 7.9% in 2015 is a return to some sort of ‘true’ Core Vote as witnessed in 1945-1970? Personally I prefer the 19/20% average of 1974-2010.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Sep '15 - 9:36am

    Ed, this is an important subject and thanks for your piece, above. Have you seen the Curtice contribution to the Liberal History Group’s recent publication on the election and the Coalition? If not, it would be good if you cd get hold of a copy and give us further thoughts.

  • nvelope2003 28th Sep '15 - 4:02pm

    Between 1945 and 1970 the Liberal Party only fought a limited number of seats – 306 in 1945, 475 in 1950 when it got 9% of the votes and 9 MPs and lost hundreds of deposits. The average vote per candidate during this period was about 14% but presumably they did not fight really hopeless seats. About 100 seats were fought in 1951 and 1955, 216 in 1959, rising to about 365 in 1964, 311 in 1966 and 322 in 1970 with 6 MPs and 7.5% of the vote.

    2015 must be the worst in terms of votes per candidate.

  • nvelope2003; it was worse tyhan that, it was the worst reult in the history of the Liberal Party since it was formed in the 1860’s. Thank Paddy Ashdown, Nick Clegg and all those who refused to listen to the many warnings we gave for 3 years before 2015.

  • nvelope2003 30th Sep '15 - 3:12pm

    Theakes: You may be right but Labour was also down to its core vote too. When it came to polling day the voters who were not loyal to one particular party chose to vote for the parties – Conservative and UKIP – who preferred cuts in spending and not the parties – Labour and Liberal Democrats – who wanted to soften the cuts. Only in Scotland did the voters do the opposite but they probably voted SNP for other reasons.

    In a society where only a minority consider themselves poor it is hard to get the voters to vote for more taxes to benefit others. Until the 1960s most people were happy to vote for more taxes as they thought only the rich people would have to pay them. Not such a popular choice if you have to pay them yourself. People know that public spending has to be financed by their own money now. For example, when you are asked to pay for buses which you do not use yourself and which you see running about almost empty in some areas, you might prefer to keep the money to pay for the car you use to get to work. It is a hard tough world.

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