From the moment the exit poll was revealed at 10pm on election night, the surprising surge in Labour support was attributed to a “youthquake”. Young people, galvanised by Corbyn’s youth-friendly manifesto and memeability, were responsible for the prime minister’s humiliating defeat, so the story went.
Naturally, once the celebratory hangovers wore off, we spent days patting ourselves on the back and basking in the glow of sweet (semi-) victory – but were we right to? Did as many of us actually head to the polls as everyone thought, or was youth turnout wildly overestimated? It was vastly underestimated after the EU referendum, after all, so maybe the so-called experts were overcompensating this time around?
Well, kind of, according to new data from pollster Ipsos Mori, which has published youth turnout figures for every general election since 1979. Just over half (54%) of all 18-to-24-year-olds cast their ballots – far from the estimate of 72% that was made early on, but still the highest level in 25 years.
This means that, of those young people who registered to vote, 64% actually voted – the highest youth turnout since 1992, when 67% of this demographic voted.
Turnout was similar among 25-to-34-year-olds, with 55% of all adults that age voting. Meanwhile, turnout among over-55s decreased slightly.
No surprises for guessing which party benefited from the surge in youth turnout. Ipsos Mori attributed the swing to Labour to under-45-year-olds, mainly those in the 25-to-34 age bracket.
Of the 18-to-24-year-olds who took to the polls, 62% voted for Labour, 27% voted Conservative, 5% voted Lib Dem, 2% voted for Ukip and 4% voted for other parties, BuzzFeed News reported. By contrast, the over-65s were similarly likely to back the Conservatives (61%). Ukip support declined among every age group.
The difference in party preferences between age groups means that age, not class, is now the defining indicator of party support. The gap between young Labour supporters and over-55 Conservative voters is now the biggest it's been since Ipsos Mori began collecting the data in 1979.
There was also a gender element to the Labour "youthquake", with a huge swing for Labour and Corbyn among younger women (18 points) compared with younger men (3.5 points), reported the Guardian.