Are the silver voters behind the Tory surge?
The weekend ICM poll for the Sunday Express poll was so exceptional that it is worth looking in some detail at the data which is now available.
And the striking feature for me is the split amongst those aged 65 years and above – the pensioner group. For the 61% Tory score against 24% for Labour and just 7% for the Lib Dems is really quite amazing. Normally the older you are the more Conservative you are inclined to be but I cannot recall a survey when this proportion has exceeded 60%.
Even last March when ICM was reporting a 10% Tory lead only 51% of the 65+ segment said they would vote for Cameron’s party.
What’s particularly important about the over 65s is that they are much more inclined to vote than those who are younger. Thus in this poll 70% said they were “certain” to turn out compared with 59% for the 35-64 group, 40% for the 25-34s and just 19% for the 18-24s.
So shifts in opinion amongst the elderly can have a disproportionate impact on electoral outcomes. As a group they have to be taken very seriously and as life expectancy grows they will become even more significant.
Of course I acknowledge that like with all these sub-sets we have to be careful about drawing too many conclusions and we need to see further polls to assess whether this is a trend. But that boost from this segment was the reason the overall numbers were so good for the Tories.
Notes on the figures: the figures in the table I’ve reproduced do not include ICM’s spiral of silence adjustment. This is where the pollsters allocates 50% of the votes of those who refused or said “don’t know” in line with what they said they did in 2005. Also the figures in the table are notional. They are based on scaling back the numbers in line with with how certain people said it was that they would vote. Thus if a respondent rated this at 70% then they would only be counted as 0.7 of a person. Those putting their certainty level at 60% or below are not counted at all.