An exclusive exit poll conducted by Nouse has revealed the extent to which young people were responsible for Labour’s surge last Thursday – and just how divided the constituency of York Outer is. The survey, conducted outside the polling station in V-Bar, gained a sample size of 200 students who voted there. It revealed that, of this sample, 71 per cent voted for York Outer’s Labour candidate, Luke Charters-Reid, with the Liberal Democrats pushed into third place behind the Conservatives.
This is in contrast to the wider constituency result where, despite an 11.9 per cent boost in Labour’s overall vote share, Corbyn’s party fell 8,289 votes behind incumbent Tory MP Julian Sturdy. Were the results on campus to have been replicated across York Outer, however, Labour would have won a majority of 34 743.
It is currently being reported that 72 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted in this year’s general election – the highest youth turnout since 1992. Furthermore, if true, this would be the first election since records began in 1964 in which turnout among young people was higher than the national average.
As such, it is currently being touted that much of Labour’s additional 3 527 681 votes at this election, taking their national vote share from 30.4 per cent to 40.0 per cent, came from the young. This conclusion would largely be supported by the evidence gathered outside V-Bar on polling day.
On the other hand, the Liberal Democrats appeared to be punished at times by the insurgent student vote – despite managing a net gain of four seats. In the Nouse exit poll, they were beaten to third place by a single percentage point behind the Conservatives, and this may go some way to explain why Nick Clegg lost his seat.
The former Deputy PM, whose Sheffield Hallam constituency is heavily populated by students, was beaten by Labour’s Jared O Mara, who overturned Clegg’s 2353 vote lead into his own lead of 2125. However, Labour’s gain in the seat has been a long process since 2010, when Clegg infamously went back on his promise of free university education.
It can therefore be said that, where given the choice of opposition, students are heading in their droves towards Labour. None of the eight Liberal Democrat gains were sourced from Labour seats, with the only Lib Dem gains in England coming from Conservative incumbents where the party had lost those seats to the Tories in 2015.
As for Conservative support among student voters, it was never likely that a party that has seemingly embraced a hard Brexit would attract 18-24 year olds, 75 per cent of whom voted to remain in the European Union. Although Theresa May’s party may now have to re-think its Brexit strategy, garnering youth support was never part of the plan.
One thing is clear: the political rulebook has been torn up. Young people, previously considered to be disenfranchised, have become a formidable political force. It may only be a matter of time before beliefs on rent caps and free education become centrist political arguments.