Public Opinion and Elections

05 Dec 23

Public Opinion and Elections

In the lead up to the next general election there is much speculation about party support and vote choice, but what really affects an individuals’ choice at the ballot box? Is it too late to change minds?

As part of a new report, The State of Public Opinion 2023, published today by UK in a Changing Europe, Professors Jane Green and Geoffrey Evans present some important considerations for politicians and policy makers about the potential impact of: electoral volatility, economic security and the economy, and class voting in the forthcoming election.

In the article, Electoral Volatility, Professor Green explores how declining trust in politics and electoral shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘partygate’, the Truss mini budget, and the on-going cost-of-living crisis, have all impacted on the stability of the electorate’s voting intention.

British Election Study data from May 2023 indicates this potential volatility as we head towards the next election. With some voters switching to ‘undecided’ and a large proportion (37% of 2019 Conservatives and 32% of all voters) saying they would vote for a different party to the one they voted for in 2019.’

This does not necessarily mean that the upcoming election will be as volatile as previous ones - volatility decreased between 2017 and 2019 and it could still do so again.

Read the entire article (page 95) in the full report.

Professor Green goes on to focus on economic security and the economy and explains how economic security is strongly correlated with voting intention and will be of even greater importance in the next general election.



'It will be the party who promises greater security, and who is more trusted to deliver it that benefits the most at the ballot box.'





Read the entire article (page 116) in the full report.


In the article entitled ‘Social Class’, Professor Evans explains:

‘Based on current voting intentions, significant loss of Conservative support among the working class means much of the ‘red wall’ looks set to return to Labour. Of the 31 Northern and Midlands ‘red wall’ seats which flipped from Labour to Conservative between 2015 and 2019, only three still maintain a Conservative lead in 2023 British Election Study panel data.’

With the economy being the major political concern, the cost-of-living crisis is now the public’s priority. Professor Evans explains that there is an apparent inability of either of the main parties to successfully present strong policy platforms on economic issues, and for Labour to present a convincing economic programme to working class voters.

‘Part of the problem for the Conservatives is that their 2019 working class voters are defecting to Reform UK – at a 50% higher rate than defection to Labour. The Conservatives are trapped in the middle of a dual defection: they’re too centrist/soft on immigration for their 2019 working class voters and are not handling the economy well enough for just about everybody!’

Read the entire article (page 128) in the full report.



The State of Public Opinion 2023 report examines the key developments in public opinion as it pertains not only to the parties, but also key areas of public policy since 2019. In addition, it analyses the demographic social and economic factors which shape voters’ preferences and beliefs.

UK in a Changing Europe launches this report, today, at the Public Opinion Conference, British politics: What do the public think?