The turnout debate – will it be higher or lower?

The turnout debate – will it be higher or lower?

    Is MORI right – are we heading for 55%?

When we last looked at turnout we suggested that the reason 2001 was so low was because nobody believed that William Hague’s Tories had any chance of defeating Tony Blair and the Election was seen as a foregone conclusion.

This time, we argued, that received opinion has it that it will be a foregone conclusion once again – but Labour’s poll leads are nothing like what they were four years ago and the Tory move to discredit the poll ratings could create a view that the contest is closer. The established YouGov polling organisation, which has consistently showed much reduced Labour shares, will add to the view that this election could be quite close.

A new analysis just put out by MORI argues that the reverse might be happening and that we could be set for a turnout that is even lower than four years ago. Looking at what people surveyed in polls at this stage before the last two elections and what they did points, MORI argue, to the figure dropping to 55%.

February 1997

Certain 61% Certain/very likely 77% Actual turnout 71%

March 2001

Certain 49% Certain/very likely 66% Actual turnout 59%

February 2005

Certain 45% Certain/very likely 61% Actual turnout ??%

The MORI argument is a strong one but is not universally accepted. A number of commentators have pointed that turnout in local, Euro and parliamentary by-elections has been substantially higher than in the same period before 2001.

Turnout Betting Odds

0% – 55%: 13/8 55% – 60%: 13/8 60% +: 15/8

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© Mike Smithson 2005

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