Research: Voters in swing seats bombarded with leaflets – while safe seats voters are ignored

Posted on the 12th December 2019

Voters in swing seats report receiving far more leaflets than those in Britain’s hundreds of safe seats, according to new research for the Electoral Reform Society.

Just one in four people (25%) in safe seats report receiving four or more election leaflets/communications compared to almost half (46%) of those in swing seats, according to extensive BMG analysis for the Society [1].

BMG mapped responses from voters to their constituency, using a database of safe and swing seats.

Nearly three times as many people in swing seats (14%) reported receiving 10 or more leaflets – compared to just 5% of those in safe seats.

Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research, said:

“We’ve long suspected that voters in one-party strongholds get far less attention than those in electoral battlegrounds. Now we know it’s the case – with nearly three times as many people in swing seats receiving 10 or more leaflets this election.

“Across the country, millions of voters feel marginalised and left on the sidelines, while the election is fought in a handful of swing seats. For too many people it’s felt like there’s been no election at all, under the one-party seats of winner-takes-all voting. It’s time for all seats to be competitive, through a fair voting system where every vote counts – no matter where you are.

“First Past the Post is creating two classes of voter among the public – the ignored, and the targeted.

“This has to be the last election under Westminster’s warped voting system. Parties must make proportional representation a red line issue and put the country first.”

ENDS/More Information

Just 16 percent of the public believe politics is working well in the UK – and only 2 percent feel they have a significant influence over decision-making, according to damning new BMG polling for the ERS. It’s no wonder when millions of votes are thrown on the electoral scrapheap

Nearly 200 seats haven’t changed hands since World War II – with ERS analysis showing that 14 million voters in ‘one party fiefdoms’. One in ten seats haven’t swapped party since 1918.

The Electoral Reform Society have been able to predict the election result in half of Britain’s constituencies, before polling day. 316  seats as ‘one party seats’ (50% of Britain’s total, i.e. excluding Northern Ireland). This is what happens under an outdated one-person-takes-all voting system. Nearly 23m voters in Britain are in these ‘competition free zones’, according to the ERS.

Notes to Editors

Fieldwork dates: 6th – 11th December 2019. Sample: 1660 GB adults aged 18+. Data Collection Method: Fieldwork was conducted online. Invitations to participate were sent to members of online panels. Non-response from different demographic groups was taken into account during the fieldwork phase and post-fieldwork adjustments.

[1] The question asked was: 

During the 2019 general election campaign so far, have you received an election leaflet, letter or flyer through your door from a political party or candidate?

  • No – I’ve not received any election leaflets, letters or flyers
  • Yes – I’ve received between one and three election leaflets, letters or flyers
  • Yes – I’ve received between four and nine election leaflets, letters or flyers
  • Yes – I’ve received ten or more election leaflets, letters or flyers
  • Summary: Yes

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