One in five voters say they are voting tactically at the 2024 general election

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 01, 2024, 7:57 AM GMT+0

Tactical voters are most likely to be Greens who are lending their vote to other parties

With the election around the corner, people’s minds have been turning to how to make the most of their vote.

Now a new YouGov study finds that one in five voters (22%) say they will be voting tactically on 4 July.

Those intending to vote for the Liberal Democrats are particularly likely to be doing so tactically – as many as four in ten of the party’s voters (39%) say so. This doubtless helps explain why Ed Davey’s recognition rate is so low among his own voters.

Labour voters are also more likely to be voting tactically, at 29%, while Conservative, Reform UK and Green voters are much less likely to be doing so (8-12%).

Those who are voting tactically are overwhelmingly doing so in order to try and keep a Tory out of their constituency. Among tactical-Labour voters, 89% are doing so to deter the Conservatives, and 85% of tactical-Lib Dems say the same – only 8% of this latter group are trying to keep Labour away.

But who would tactical voters rather be voting for? The largest portion - 30% - say they truly want to be voting for the Greens, but are instead redirecting their efforts to another party. A further 20% would rather be backing the Lib Dems, while 16% wish they could actually vote for Labour.

A further 18% of tactical voters wish they were voting for a party or candidate other than the main five Britain-wide ones or the Scottish and Welsh nationalists.

How different does voting intention look because of tactical voting?

In absolute terms, the Labour party’s vote share is the most inflated by tactical voting. The implied vote share for the party were tactical voting not a necessity is 29% – eight points lower than it is actually receiving because of tactical switchers.

By contrast, the overall size of the Lib Dem vote isn’t very different in the hypothetical event that tactical voting were not a consideration – the party loses around as many of its aspirant voters to other parties for tactical reasons as it gains. Around 12% are implied to back the party in the event that tactical voting were not a necessity, compared to 14% in reality.

The Conservatives and Reform UK likewise see little difference, although this is more because far fewer of their voters are only backing them tactically.

It is the Greens who are most damaged by tactical voting considerations, losing more than half of its voters to other parties for tactical reasons and attracting almost no tactical voters from other parties. The implied Green vote is 13% in the event that tactical voting were not taking place, compared to 7% in reality.

Tables coming shortly

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Photo: Getty