Ahead of the final televised debates, the latest study by global reputation auditors Echo Research combining likelihood to vote, attitudes toward the issues and overall media influence shows Labour losing the hearts and minds of the British electorate. According to Echo's study, if people can be persuaded to exercise their right to vote, there is a strong likelihood of swinging
the 2010 General Elections towards a Conservative or a Conservative-Liberal Democratic government.
" We've been tracking governments and elections since 1993. We are seeing an echo of the famous 1960 Kennedy-Nixon televised debates, where the power of television and the novelty of broadcast head-to-head encounters clearly swung voters around. This, along with the Obama effect of harnessing social media, is driving passion and interest back into the UK elections," according to Sandra Macleod, Group CEO of Echo Research.
Added Macleod, " the immediacy and drama of the TV debate has combined with the social media engagement to spark the interest of the young voters and encourage them to apply for ballot papers, which could be the deciding factor in this election."
TV MOST IMPORTANT AND TRUSTED SOURCE
Echo's nationwide research among 1,000 adults before the second TV debate mirrors the near-equal ranking seen by other polls, showing 20% Conservative, 20% LibDems and 19% Labour, with up to 25% being undecided or unwilling to say. With TV the single most important and trusted source of information, notably in the Midlands and Scotland and particularly among traditional
Labour supporters, Gordon Brown's under-performance in the debates is affecting voter sentiment. Labour's favourability on television is lowest of the three main parties, according to Echo's analysis. Over a third (37%) has said that television is more important than the last election, and especially among the 18-24 year olds.
INTERNET AND FACEBOOK IMPACT
Considering voter perceptions with the potential influence of 1.4 million items of media coverage and 61,000 social media comment across each of the three main political parties, Echo's study shows that for the first time, with close to 50% of the population turning to the internet for their information, the online world is also playing a game-changing role in the 2010 election. Online shows the greatest increase as a source of information about the elections, ahead of all other sources, particularly for men.
Notably, social media sites such as Facebook are addressing issues of real voter concern such as the economy and health far better than traditional media which have tended to focus more on personality and MPs' expenses. Although traditional face-to-face discussions in the pub (32%) are proving to be still more influential than social media (19%), social media is having a significant impact, especially among LibDems voters across the country who also favour Facebook more than the other
supporters. Importantly, social media rank particularly highly among the young 18-24 year olds (42%). To date, social media has been dominated by the Conservative viewpoints (58%) which have broadly mirrored the attitudes of the electorate.
IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID
Both in the media and in perceptions, the economy dominates everyone's minds; healthcare and education follow in second and third places - with healthcare significantly higher among women (20% vs. 13% men). Immigration was one of the biggest issues for the elderly (65+), behind the economy and elderly care/healthcare for that group.
Lagging significantly behind in terms of voter importance are taxes at 9% (although most of a worry for the 18-24 year olds), care for the elderly, security, Afghanistan (of note really only for the 65+ and those in the North) and the environment (registering slightly above others for the middle-age bracket).
From among those expressing a preference, Labour voters are most concerned about the economy and education, while Conservative followers are more concerned than others about immigration and taxes.
THE UNDECIDEDS RULE
Over a quarter of voters are undecided about whether to vote or state a preference, with the least likelihood to cast a vote among LibDems supporters (20%). "But," adds Macleod, "while the Conservatives are doing the better job on social media, it's the LibDems who seem to offer the greatest hope and encouragement among the young (18-24) and also those under 45."
Commenting at the launch of the Echo Research group's integrated online and social media analysis platform, EchoSonar, Sandra Macleod said: " While we are not seeing the deft use of social media that President Barack Obama displayed to secure his landslide victory in America, the use of social media both by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats
has left Labour standing. As with the introduction of televised debates in this country, social media have now become an essential weapon in the battle for people's hearts, minds and votes. Those who ignore it or are slow to engage will truly be left behind."
- Nationwide telephone survey of a representative sample of 1024 UK adults conducted 16 to 18 April (CATI Fieldwork tables available upon request)
- Analysis of 1,333,594 items of online coverage for all political parties since 1 October 2009
- Tracking of 60,996 social media items across all political parties since the election was called (online access via the integrated EchoSonar platform available upon request)
- Presentation of findings and graphics please click here
BACKGROUND ON ECHO
With 165 employees and analysts in offices in London, Paris, New York and Singapore, Echo Research provides independent reputation analysis through media content and stakeholder studies for FTSE and Fortune 100 organisations, the public sector and not-for-profits. Winners of some 75 industry awards for excellence in research, among Echo's current clients are American Express, Barclays Bank, BT, GSK, the Department of Health, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, JPMorgan Chase, Nintendo,
PricewaterhouseCoopers and WWF. As registered Expert Witnesses, Echo has tracked elections in the UK and internationally since 1993. EchoSonar is the latest in the group's reputation research offerings aimed at understanding the issues and influence in the online world.
For further information, contact:
London - Sandra Macleod, Group CEO - +44 (0) 20 7608 1113 email@example.com
New York - David Michaelson, President North America - +1 (212) 212-901-0456 firstname.lastname@example.org
Singapore - Michelle Allen, Regional Manager AsiaPac - +65 63299630 email@example.com
© Echo Research Ltd 10/11 Charterhouse Square London EC1M 6AX
T +44 (0) 207 608 1113 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.echoresearch.com
Offices in: LONDON • PARIS • NEW YORK • SINGAPORE