Brits will be heading to the polls this Thursday 8th June, to decide the political fate of the United Kingdom. Since the announcement of the snap election on 18th April, parties have condensed their election campaigning down to a mere 6 weeks.
So, what has resonated with the UK population? What are people searching online heading into the election? Using Hitwise data, our findings show that personality, controversy and Brexit are dominating the conversation.
1. Search volumes reveal that people have a higher association with the leader than the party, for the Conservatives and Labour.
Search behaviours reveal how people are associating with each party, and for the two key parties, this is led by the leader. Searches for ‘Theresa May’ and ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ have largely outweighed that of their respective parties. In the week ending 3rd June, this gap was a significant 381% for ‘Theresa May’ and 349% for ‘Jeremy Corbyn’.
But this isn’t the case for other parties. In contrast, searches for ‘Liberal Democrats’ has risen higher than ‘Tim Farron’ by 219%, showing that the party association is potentially stronger than the leader.
2. Search variations around each leader also reveal that personality and controversy is driving people’s interest.
In the week ending 3rd June, searches for Theresa May’s age and fox hunting, have outweighed searches around political news, manifestos or polls. For Jeremy Corbyn, his relationship with the IRA has proven to be the dominant topic, at 4% of all search variations around the party leader’s name.
Tim Farron also faces his own controversy. His performance with television interviewer Andrew Neil and his stance on homosexuality were top of mind in search variations, largely outweighing the debate and political news.
3. Brexit is the top concern for online audiences, but more so for people searching for Theresa May than Jeremy Corbyn.
Brexit is dominating the national conversation and election campaigns. In the week ending 3-June, ‘Brexit’ was the top searched-for policy, amounting to 7.8% of people who have also searched for ‘Theresa May’ and ‘The Conservatives’.
Although still dominant, Brexit was searched for comparatively less at 6.9% of ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ and ‘Labour’ audiences. Compared to the Conservative Party, domestic policies such as the economy and education, have taken a greater share for this audience.
4. Over the course of the election campaign, Theresa May’s audience has grown among Gen Y and Jeremy Corbyn among Gen Z.
With the drive to get young people to vote in this election, each party leader has attracted different youth segments online. Theresa May has seen a 9% rise in the share of people aged 25-34, when comparing the 6 weeks of election campaigns with the 6 weeks prior. The share of people aged 18-24 searching of Jeremy Corbyn has also risen by 16% over this period.
Who will win the battle for the young voters? Will recent controversy over fox hunting and the IRA influence the vote, or will Brexit be the deciding factor? Only Thursday’s vote will decide.
For more information about Hitwise’s search and audience intelligence, please contact us here.