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Tactical voting: How Voters Play First Past the Post

Chris Holbrook Find Out Now Market Research

Chris Holbrook

21st Sep, 2023 | 5 mins read

Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus have conducted a joint poll for the Independent to understand tactical voting intentions. 2,881 UK adults were asked if and how they planned to tactically vote in the next General Election.

Key points

  • Conservatives are set to lose the most from tactical voting, with tactical voting estimated to cost them 35 seats in our projection.
  • Likewise Labour and Liberal Democrats have the most to gain with 28 and 7 seats respectively.
  • Smaller parties have more support than in voting intention polls, with 20% support for Greens Vs. 5% in voting intention polls.

How tactical voting changes votes

  • Conservative supporters tend to go Lib Dem or Reform
  • Labour supporters mostly go to the Lib Dems or the Greens
  • Lib Dem supporters go to Labour, the Greens, and a few to the Conservatives
  • Reform supporters mostly go to the Conservatives
  • Green supporters mostly go to Labour and the Lib Dems

Questions we asked

Suppose all of the following political parties were equally likely to win your seat at a general election. Which party would you most like to win?: England, Scotland, Wales

Other than the party you just picked, which party would be your second choice?: England, Scotland, Wales

We know that many people in your area didn’t vote in the last general election. How likely do you think you are to vote in the next general election on a scale from 0 to 10? (10 – certain to vote, 0 – certain not to vote): England, Scotland, Wales

Suppose your first-choice party is unlikely to win the seat, but your second-choice party could. On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to switch your vote to your second-choice party? (10 – certain to switch to my second-choice party, 0 – certain to stay with my first-choice party): England, Scotland, Wales

Which pair of parties do you think are likely to come in first and second place (in either order) in your seat at the next general election: England, Scotland, Wales

The role of tactical voting will prove vital as voters try and game the First Past the Post system to oust the incumbent Conservatives. The ultimate winners from tactical voting from this poll are Labour, with the additional votes adding to their existing lead.

You can view the full breakdown and analysis here

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Photo by Massimiliano Morosinotto on Unsplash