Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
24 June 2016

How did different demographic groups vote in the EU referendum?

How did young people, older people, high-income areas and those not born in the UK vote? And what was the turnout for different demographics?

By Barbara Speed

We now know how the country voted as a whole in Thursday’s referendum, but how were demographic factors like age, income, and education reflected in the result?

An eve-of-result poll released by YouGov at 10pm last night (which, admittedly, gave Remain a four-point lead) confirms the age/voting intention correlation shown by polls throughout the campaign:

The Guardian has some indicators of other demographic trends, formed by plotting each voting area by how it voted against various socioeconomic factors.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

According to these results, areas where more residents had higher education skewed sharply to Remain, while areas where a more had no formal qualifications were slightly more likely to vote Leave.

The median income of an area also showed a loose correlation with results – and areas where the median rose above 30k all chose to Remain, and the lowest income areas voted to Leave: 

Graphics: The Guardian

 

higher median age meant an area was slightly more likely to vote for Remain, though the correlation is surprisingly weak given YouGov’s age findings. Finally, almost every area where more than 30 per cent of residents were not born in the UK voted to Remain. 

What was voter turnout across age groups?

Update: 26/6: Social media is passing round a stat that only 36 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted. Given that this age group was the most likely to vote Remain, this would imply that if turnout had matched that of higher age groups, Remain coudld have triumphed.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that –  this is not real turnout data, and we will in fact never know exactly what proportion of each age group voted. Some quick background: at General Elections, representatives from political parties stand outside polling stations asking for your voting ID number, and collate this information country-wide to figure out who voted (and guess how, based on canvassing data). However, they tend not to at one-off votes, such as referendums, and didn’t on Thursday.

The source for the referendum’s supposed turnout data is Sky Data, which tweeted this out today:

Sky isn’t claiming this is collected data – it’s projected, and a subsequent tweet said it was based on “9+/10 certainty to vote, usually/always votes, voted/ineligible at GE2015”. I’ve asked for more information on what this means, but for now it’s enough to say it’s nothing more than a guess. Others have tried to extrapolate turnout data from an Ashcroft poll, but again, approach with caution: the poll wasn’t designed to measure age turnout, so won’t have been weighted accordingly.

Graphics from the BBC and FT show that areas with younger populations generally had lower turnout, but that’s the closest we have to hard-and-fast data on youth turnout.