General Election 2024: What undecided voters think – in their own words

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
June 28, 2024, 12:17 PM GMT+0

YouGov’s election polling is some of our best-known work, but it’s not the only political research we do.  Our Qualitative team have been getting to the heart of what the public really think: how they feel about the UK’s major political parties, how they’ve reacted to the twists and turns of the campaign so far, and the issues driving their decisions as they head to the ballot box on 4 July.

One example of this work is the Sky News YouGov Voters Panel. These Britons come from over 40 different seats across the UK and reflect a wide range of demographics and political opinions. Their top priorities include the NHS, taxation, immigration, and “anything to help with the cost of living” (Iola) – among many other things, all depending on the individual.  The one thing they have in common: they all said they were likely to cast a vote as the 2024 general election was called, but few have yet committed to vote for any particular party.

And despite an eventful campaign, what we’ve found, for the most part, is that these undecided voters have remained undecided. For example, here is how they reacted to the parties’ manifestos.

Are the Conservatives trying to “consolidate the grey vote”? 

The Conservative manifesto received mixed reviews from our panel. The Triple Lock Plus policy, for example (which would increase the tax-free pension allowance on an annual basis in line with the triple lock) got a warm reception from some panellists. But the Tories’ perceived emphasis on measures targeted at older Britons hasn’t been universally popular with our group of undecided voters.

One panellist said the party is “throwing the younger generation under the bus” and trying to “consolidate [the] grey vote” – while Aphie, 24, claimed that the manifesto (if enacted) is “actively” going to make her life “a lot worse”.

Another undecided, David, said he “liked the look” of some of the policies the Tories have promised to enact. But his overall appraisal was more lukewarm: “The general purpose of the Conservative Party manifesto is ‘carry on as we’re doing already’”. It's a perception that may be challenging for the party at a time when 55% of voters are in the mood for a change.

Labour: “How are we going to pay for all of this?”

Labour may have a commanding poll lead, but the picture among undecided voters is less enthusiastic.

Several members of the Sky News YouGov Voters Panel agreed that some of the party’s policies would be beneficial, and that they speak to the needs of the UK public at this time. “[The manifesto pledges] are all relevant, especially those for education and on the environment”, said Graham.

There is, however, some scepticism about whether or not the party can turn these promises into political reality. "I do wonder in general if the amount of change that they are putting forward is realistic”, said Alex. “And if it is realistic, at what cost?"

As of our most recent tracker data, Labour are – by 31% to 23% - more trusted to deliver on the economy than the Tories. Still, the view that Keir Starmer’s party won’t be able to afford their headline pledges was articulated by more than one of our undecided voters.  “The NHS reforms sound very good. Several of the other policies sound very good”, said Pam. “But once again: How are we going to pay for all of this?”

This perception isn’t limited to Labour: “The elephant in the room for all parties is still the funding”, as another panellist, Janet, put it. An undecided voter might find pension reforms, the pledge to clear the NHS backlog, or other policies appealing, but that doesn’t mean they think either party will be able to finance them.

For some of our panel, it may be that neither party’s leader has put forward a compelling enough case for their respective manifestos. As Alex summarised: “I don’t find either party leader to be trustworthy or personable. And that’s really frustrating.”

This represents only some of the work we’ve done with Sky News over the campaign so far. We’ve continued to ask this panel for feedback over the election period: getting their thoughts on Nigel Farage’s return to frontline politics; the recent parliamentary betting scandal; and their views on who won – and lost – each of the major debates.

And our work on politics also represents just a fraction of our overall qualitative offering. At YouGov, we can bring the voice of those impacted by decisions and events to the forefront as they happen – using our methodological expertise (as well as tools such as video and AI) to create innovative, evocative, and actionable work for our clients.

Want to discover what people think? Contact one of our experts today

Photo: Getty