C + Investigations undertook a poll of 1071 students from across the University to find out students’ voting intentions in next week’s General Election. Of those, 1017 told C+ both their college and expressed a voting preference. 725 expressed an intention to vote in either the Oxford East or Oxford West & Abingdon constituency, whilst 237 respondents said that they were going to vote in their home constituency. Some results may be skewed due to an unequal distribution of respondents over colleges. For rankings between colleges, those with low response rates were excluded.
Who are you planning to vote for?
What are the top priorities for Oxford students voting for the Conservatives or Labour?
What is the most important issue for you in the General Election?
Tom Robinson provides a breakdown of Cherwell’s survey on voter intentions
Labour has come out top in a University-wide poll of students’ voting intentions. 31.6 per cent of students intend to vote for the party, while support for David Cameron and the Conservatives came in at only 24.2 per cent. The poll suggests that the voting intentions of Oxford students are at odds with those of the general public, with the BBC’s poll of polls (as of Monday of First Week) putting the Conservatives one point ahead of Labour on 34 per cent. Oxford students in contrast appear to favour Labour considerably.
However, of those respondents intending to vote in Oxford West and Abingdon, support for the Labour Party was only 25 per cent (versus 31.4 per cent in Oxford East), whereas the Conservative Party came out on top at 29 per cent (versus 20.3 per cent in Oxford East). Liberal Democrat support was also more pronounced in Oxford West and Abingdon than in Oxford East, at 19 per cent versus 11 per cent.
Variation across the two constituencies may be explained by the fact that both Oxford seats are considered fairly safe for the Conservative and Labour parties respectively. Students may therefore be engaging in tactical voting, choosing to vote in more marginal seats back in their home constituencies. Oxford West and Abingdon is considered a relatively safe bet for the Conservative Party’s Nicola Blackwood and Oxford East has returned the Labour Party’s Andrew Smith since 1987. It is likely that many Labour-supporting students residing in Oxford West and Abingdon intend to vote elsewhere.
Unsurprisingly, support for the Green Party was strong amongst the student population, with 15 per cent of responses indicating an intention to vote for Natalie Bennett’s party next Thursday. After excluding colleges with low response rates, Wadham College expressed the highest proportion of support for the Greens, with 28% of students there intending to vote for the party.
UKIP underperformed national polling, with the party only receiving 4.1 per cent of student support. On the other hand the Liberal Democrats, some of whose MPs voted for tuition fee rises despite pledging not to, outperformed national polls by two per cent. A further 8.7 per cent of students remained undecided at the time of the survey but only 0.5 per cent said they did not intend to cast a vote. The most undecided colleges were Mansfield, Oriel and Regent’s Park, though low response numbers across some colleges may skew these results.
Social issues dominated the most important policy areas for students in the run up to the election. Welfare policy came out as the most important issue with 23.8 per cent of respondents deeming it the most important issue. The NHS came in second place with 16.6 per cent. Government borrowing was the third most highlighted policy at 11.4 per cent.Within support for the two
main parties, those expressing a preference for the Conservative Party were much more likely to highlight government borrowing or jobs as their most important issue whereas Labour voters favoured social welfare and the NHS. Undermining fears that new electoral registration laws may deter students from voting, only 2 per cent of respondents had not registered to
Have colleges earned their stereotypes? C+ looks at some of the more light-hearted findings of the General Election survey
Even less surprising than the level of support for the Greens in a student survey was the responses of a few students who wished to express their rather ‘unique’ voting intentions. For one survey respondent, the answer is
clear: vote for the First Galactic Empire to secure a brighter future for all by tackling the most important issue of all, “Jedi scum”.Another particularly inspired student suggests we eschew the norm of voting for humans and instead choose Princess Celestia, an Alicorn pony and co-ruler of Equestria.
More seriously, Wadham can breathe easy knowing that over 63 per cent of the college voted for either the Greens or Labour, and had the joint-lowest proportion of Conservative voters of all Oxford colleges at 8 per cent, alongside Mansfield. With only 40 per cent of Balliol respondents choosing Ed Miliband’s party, the College may need to worry that their reputation as the heartland of Labour support has come under fire.
St Hilda’s, Pembroke, Mansfield, and Hertford each had a higher proportion of Labour voters than the supposed bastion of The Red Flag (49, 44, 62, and 58 per cent respectively).
The Conservative Party was the most favoured party of 14 colleges, with a particularly high proportion of student support at St John’s, Christ Church, Somerville and the alma mater of leader David Cameron, Brasenose.