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26 July 2021updated 20 Aug 2021 5:19am

Do British voters really live in “political bubbles”?

Nearly half of Labour voters would feel negatively about a family member or friend voting Conservative.

By Ben Walker

The US, as has long been clear, is a politically polarised place. Last year, four in ten Americans said they had no friends of an opposing political persuasion: 39 per cent of Donald Trump voters reported they had no friends who backed Joe Biden in the election, while 42 per cent of Biden voters said they had none who supported Trump.

Here in Britain, do voters live in similar political bubbles? The Brexit debate divided us, but Opinium research conducted last week found that just one in five Leave and Remain voters said they had no friends with an opposing view in 2016, a far cry from the polarisation seen on the other side of the Atlantic.

Voters in Britain are less likely to live in a political bubble than voters in America
Pew Research (US, 2020) and Opinium Research (UK, Jul 2021) surveys on having friends of opposing political views

Some 18 per cent of Leave and Remain voters say all their friends voted the same way as they did in the Brexit referendum. 

Meanwhile just 2 per cent of Conservative voters said all their friends voted the same way as them in general elections. This figure was 4 per cent for Labour voters.

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However, the Opinium survey found 46 per cent of Labour voters would feel more negatively towards a friend or family member if they voted Conservative. This compares to just 15 per cent of Conservative voters who would feel the same way towards a friend voting Labour.

Almost half of Labour voters would feel negatively about a family member or friend voting Conservative
“How would you feel towards a friend or family member if you found out…?”
Opinium Research, 22-23 July

Young people are also more likely than older voters to judge others based on their political views. While more than 70 per cent of Britain’s elderly would feel indifferent if they discovered someone voted Remain, just 34 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 would feel the same about someone voting Leave.

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