How Will You Vote

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In a 2005 Gallup poll, 71% of teenagers said their political views were ‘about the same´ as their parents. 21% said more liberal while only 7% considered themselves more conservative. It would seem that many people vote the way of their parents. There are lots of possible explanations for this but the one favoured by many commentators is party identification. This is where rather than supporting a set of policies and voting for whichever party most closely matches these views, voters habitually, or perhaps ideologically, vote for the same party regardless of their policies. The factors that influence the party with which people identify has been the focus of lots of research. Suggestions rang from social class and parents’ voting habits to age and geographic location. For example, proponents of the idea would suggest that if you grew up in a mining village outside Newcastle in a working class family then the influence of your parents’ views, your associations of the Tories with pit closures and your social-economic background all make you highly unlikely to vote Conservative, even if their policies now represent your views.  If you want to read some of the research then you can find a paper on the subject here. (A-Level students you might find it a little hard going but remember you don’t need to understand every line to understand what the paper is suggesting.)

Votesforpolicies.org.uk is a website that gives you the chance to select your preferred set of policies from those on offer and see who that would lead you to vote for. It isn’t perfect – it assumes you place equal weight on all the policy areas you have selected and it assumes you think each party is equally likely to deliver on their promises. It's worst failing is perhaps that it presents policies independently from how they will be financed so there may be a long list of spending promises but we are not told that to fund these, taxes may rise or damaging cuts implemented else where. However if you keep these problems in mind  it is still worth a look if you think you are likely to vote based on party identification rather than policy agreement.

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