Many thanks again to everyone who has commented and contributed to the Big Election Survey this past week.
Since the last column was published, almost 200 more of you have taken part. This brings the number of Lincoln constituency based responders to around 500, with a further 300 responses from residents of other constituencies (predominantly Sleaford and North Hykeham).
We have cleaned our data, eliminating repeat entries and paying closer attention to the constituency for which the responders will be voting for.
The results suggest over 40% of those surveyed in Lincoln intend to vote Labour on 7 May. The Conservatives are second, with around a quarter of responders to our survey stating they plan to vote Tory in just under two weeks.
UKIP are still in third place according to our data, commanding 7% of voting intentions in our sample. Of course, there’s plenty of work still to do for the candidates of all parties, with 1 in 6 responders stating that they are still undecided about who to vote for.
I wanted to devote this third column to describing the sample in some more detail, in particular looking at party support. I also want to put on the record what this project is, and what it is not.
Firstly, I’d like to explicitly state that this survey is not a predictive poll. From the data that we collect, we cannot accurately predict the results of the election, and it wouldn’t be wise to view the survey in this way.
According to our data, 9 in 10 constituents turn out to vote. This statistic alone is evidence that this sample is not representative, with the ‘will not vote’ figure being 62% in 2010.
The data that we’re reporting is based on a sample of potential voters who, by participating in this survey online, both have a clear interest in the outcome of the election, and are computer-literate.
It could be that The Lincolnite’s readership leans towards one sub-section of voters, but the nature of our data collection methods (whereby people are sharing the links online) makes it difficult for us to confirm this.
Clearly, all this will mean is that the sample is not representative of the local electorate as a whole and, for this reason, caution should be exercised when interpreting the results and drawing conclusions about the likely outcome of the election.
What this survey predominantly is, however, is an academic study looking at the psychological underpinnings of political ideologies and orientations.
In the column last week, I outlined one such underpinning – ontological insecurity. When putting our studies together, we approached The Lincolnite in order to collaborate on data collection.
The exercise has been useful for both parties: In addition to us having a platform to build a base of survey respondents, we could offer The Lincolnite a way of basing their election coverage within a more scientifically-grounded context, instead of the opinion-based approach that is taken by many news outlets, and on social media.
We would encourage readers to share the survey as widely as possible in order to help us gain a better picture of how Lincoln feels going into the election. To take part, and have your voice heard in the survey, take part here and be in with a chance to win one of our weekly £25 Amazon voucher draws.
Changing votes, five years on
To end this week’s column, I would like to demonstrate how voters may have changed since the 2010 election. Below are a series of charts, which look at groups of voters in our sample that voted for different parties five years ago.
Conservative voters in 2010
Labour voters in 2010
Lib Dem voters in 2010
UKIP voters in 2010
‘Others’ voters in 2010
Didn’t vote in 2010
As you can see, the level of support for each party appears to have changed substantially since the previous election. Again, this may be taken as indicative only of people who have taken part in the survey.
It seems that our overall survey results may be related to the Liberal Democrats losing many of their starting votes to Labour. Further, those who didn’t vote in 2010 appear (in the main) to also be supporting the Labour Party at this election. However, with such a large proportion of our voters (and presumably, the wider electorate) still to make up its mind, the other parties seeking election can be encouraged that there is still all to play as polling day draws closer.
Craig Harper is a lecturer in human psychology at Nottingham Trent University. His main interests examine how the news media represent a range of social groups, and how these reports impact on social and political discussions. Born and bred in Lincoln, he takes a keen interest in the local area, and is a big supporter of Lincoln City FC.