The Impact of the Media on voting behaviour

Gabrielle Hamer
Mind Map by Gabrielle Hamer, updated more than 1 year ago
Gabrielle Hamer
Created by Gabrielle Hamer over 6 years ago


The impact of the media on voting in UK elections. For use with Unit 1 of AQA Government and Politics (AS Level) Also contains relevant facts from the 2015 General election.

Resource summary

The Impact of the Media on voting behaviour
  1. The media and UK elections
    1. The media can be divided broadly into: broadcast media (television, radio); the press (newspapers, journals, magazines); and the media (internet)
      1. The BBC and ITC are legally required to remain politically impartial.
        1. Newspapers are free to take sides.
          1. The Sun was famously vocal in support of the Conservatives in the 1992 GE, coming up with memorable headlines as "Will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the light". When a Labour victory appeared likely. Paul Whitely estimated that the Sun's decision to back Labour in 1997 cost the Conservatives around 500,000
            1. Based on newsprint sales, 57.5% of the dailies backed the Tories while 11.7 % backed Labour and, on the same metric, 66% of the Sunday nationals urged their readers to vote Conservative.
      2. Significance of Opinion Polls
        1. Opinion polls are most visible at election times. During these periods, the major polling companies (e.g. MORI and NOP) question the voting intentions of sample groups, selected with the intention of creating an a true cross-section of the electorate in a group of around 1000 individuals
          1. Exit polls are normally more accurate than the ordinary polls during the election campaign as they use larger samples and ask people how they voted rather than surveying voter intentions.
            1. In 2015, the exit poll taken on behalf of BBC, ITN and Sky predicted a Tory victory with 316 seats, with Labour winning 239, Lib Dems 10, SNP 58 (all but one seat), UKIP 2.
              1. The exit poll was fairly accurate, only out by a few seats.
            2. Do polls reflect or help to shape opinion?
              1. In some countries (e.g. France) opinion polls are banned in the days leading up to elections for fear that they might influence voting intentions
                1. Some people believe that voters are more likely to vote for parties that are doing well in polls (bandwagon effect).
                  1. Others argue that there is a boomerang effect, where people vote for the 'underdogs' or, more likely, they do not turn out to vote when their party is well ahead.
                    1. Opinion poll findings can also result in an increase in tactical voting. Michael Portillo believed that his loss in Enfield in 1997 was partly due to tactical voting from polls.
            3. Poll Accuracy
              1. Even with good sampling, pollsters normally allow margin of error plus or minus 3%. In 1992, however, the average final poll error was 8.9%. What factors can lead to polling error?
                1. 1) Respondents were not registered:
                  1. In 1992 it appeared that some of those being asked the questions had not registered to vote, possibly in an effort to avoid the Poll Tax.
                  2. 2) Respondents were lying:
                    1. It has been suggested that people were too embarrassed to admit publicly that they were going to vote Conservative
                    2. 3) Respondents were unrepresentative of the broader electorate
                      1. Sampling errors and samples that were too small meant that some surveys were skewed from the start
                      2. 4) Many respondents were 'floating' voters:
                        1. there was clearly a late swing to the Conservatives. Was it perhaps due to a large number of floating voters?
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