Are the Greens becoming an electorate force? Could they become the second new significant party, after the rise of UKIP?
Some have suggested as much, pointing to how the Greens are polling eight per cent in recent Ipsos MORI polls. That would match their vote in last month’s European elections, when they won three MEPs.
But more detailed data, provided by YouGov, suggests the party still has a long way to go – and shows how much support for them varies across different age groups.
The party has quite strong support about 18-24 year olds – the youngest voters. One in eight of them support the party. That is more than the ten per cent who support the Liberal Democrats, and is within single-digits of the 23 per cent who vote Tory.
But the party has far less support among older voters. Just four per cent of 40-59 year olds, and three per cent of those older than 60, would vote for them. These older voters are the backbone of UKIP’s support – 14 per cent of the former and 18 per cent of the latter support the right-wing group.
This is why the Greens are still a marginal party, despite their youthful support. Most voters – nearly two in three – are older than 40.
Younger voters are too small a proportion of the electorate to help the Greens much. Unless the party builds support among older voters, they are likely to stay stuck on around five per cent.
That will continue to leave them as the UK’s fifth party. A more favourable distribution of support means the Lib Dems remain ahead of them with eight per cent – and UKIP are more than twice as popular.
It might seem like, though the Greens are struggling now, their support among young voters will bear fruit in the coming decades. But recent research from the New York Times showed how voters tend to drift to the right after they reach 30.
Given that our older voters are also more right-wing, the Greens may simply be benefitting from a youthful interest in the left – which soon dissolves as voters grow older.