Whether today’s election result brings delight or dismay, we can all agree it’s a surprise. Not only is the result different to the polls’ predictions, it is also vastly different to the results we see on Vote for Policies when people choose parties based on policies. Why is this?
Before answering that we need to recognise how much there is to be proud of. We saw 910k surveys completed by polling day which was up from 280k in 2010 – all the more significant given the in depth detail with which we present the policies, and the level of engagement required from our users. We also learned that, according to the national poll conducted by TNS 35% are more likely to vote as a result of using the Vote for Policies format. This is incredible.
Despite these successes we’re still reaching a small percentage of the electorate. What’s more, even though 50% of the public who take the Vote for Policies survey are surprised by the polices they chose, only 20% would consider changing their vote as a result. And you can be pretty sure that figure decreases by the time those voters reach the ballot box. So it’s clear to us that a long term approach is needed to combat voting behaviour that is highly entrenched.
What have we learned?
This incredible campaign has given some valuable insights that we must now act upon.
- Vote for Policies works. On average 35% are more likely to vote as a result of using it.
- We need to reach more people – a lot more people – and across a much wider demographic.
- We need to learn more about voter behaviour, and adapt our service accordingly.
What do we do about it?
The next stage is to build a policy tracker service. We want to report regularly on which policies are implemented, and how all of the parties’ stances align with their manifesto pledges. By following up on politicians’ promises, not only can we engage voters more than just once every 5 years, we will also show that policies do matter, and give more people a reason to vote in 2020.
In terms of understanding what drives voter behaviour, we want to broaden our efforts to listen to more voters, and design better services that address what we learn. We need to be working with communities across the UK, especially outside of the south east.
We’re not the only voter advice service. The burgeoning ‘digital democracy’ sector needs to work together if we are to attract the level of funding – and support from the mainstream press – required to reach more people across the UK. This is something that is starting to happen already, and something we intend to be actively involved in.
After an election there is often a period of reflection. Vote for Policies is committed to finding new and better ways of engaging more people with the issues that affect our lives, and we hope you’ll continue to support us in this next part of the journey.
We’ve worked closely with so many brilliant people on the 2015 campaign and we want to thank you all for contributing and working so hard to help Vote for Policies reach so many people. Please read more here.