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7 May 2015

Edelman Poll - British Voters Energised By General Election, But Let Down By The Campaign

Government Affairs

A new poll published by Edelman today finds that the UK public feels more engaged by this general election campaign than they did in 2010, but that the majority of voters say they haven’t learned anything new about the parties or candidates despite a month of furious campaigning.

Of the 1,000 eligible voters surveyed, 69% reported that they are more interested in this election campaign than they were in 2010, compared with 22% who feel less interested. However, 53% think the campaign period hasn’t taught voters anything new and only 25% felt that the campaign had any impact on their voting intentions (compared with 69% who said nothing they heard had any impact).

The study of 1,000 UK voters was carried out May 1-3, 2015 and was conducted by Edelman, the UK’s largest communications company.

The survey also found that the British public believe that:

  • TV news is the most trustworthy (65%) and informative (76%) source of information about the election campaign, ahead of online (63%, 59%) and newspapers (54%, 39%) in second and third place
  • Negative campaigning is effective, with 45% claiming that negative messages they heard during the campaign about a party or a leader made them less likely to vote for them
  • The voices of celebrities should have been less prominent during the campaign – while the only group they wanted to hear more from was politicians themselves. 53% of those polled said they wanted to hear less from celebrities.

Television also emerged as the most-influential media source, with 22% reporting that TV changed their voting intentions compared with 17% for online news, 15% for newspapers and 13% for social channels. TV’s pre-eminent role during the campaign was underlined by the overwhelmingly positive response to the televised leader debates, which 74% of the public found useful and 81% made them more likely to vote in this election.

Cameron the biggest loser from the televised leader debates, with 38% of viewers reporting that they felt less positive about the prime minister as a result, compared with only 27% who felt more positive (a net score of -11%).

A surprising 32% of all voters reported that they were following at least one official party source on social media with Labour the most-followed party across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. On Facebook and Twitter in particular Labour enjoyed a huge margin of victory over the Conservative Party (Facebook 40% Labour, 30% Conservative; Twitter 44% Labour, 29% Conservative)

And finally the prime minister also flunked Edelman’s Tenner Trust Test with 5 percentage points fewer people saying they would trust him to repay a £10 note they lent him compared with the last time Edelman asked the question in January 2015 (from 49% to 44%).

By contrast, Ed Miliband held steady in the Tenner Trust Test (44% in May compared with 44% in January) and his net positivity score from the leader debates was only -1%.

Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK, says:

“What this shows is that voters do care about party politics but they want more substance, more detail and more leadership than they heard during this election campaign.

“Voters are relatively unmoved by the sound and fury of the political pundits or by celebrities shouting from the side-lines. Although they are influenced by negative campaigning, they really want to see politicians take each other on and talk about the issues that matter.

“TV remains the most important and influential political medium in Britain and the British public clearly believe that the leader debates are good for our democracy. Candidates who try to avoid them risk missing the opportunity to communicate directly to a mass audience ready to listen.

“On social, Labour’s leadership is likely to be due to a combination of demographics and a new manifestation of the ‘shy Tory’ phenomenon, making Conservative voters less likely to signpost their voting intentions by following party sources.”

For a full analysis of the survey, click here

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