How many more people will be taken in by the idea of the 'Christian vote' ?
It's been fascinating to see recent speculation about whether 'Christians will swing the 2010 UK election?' (BBC)
Strangely no one seems to be referring to some very comprehensive polling that was done on the subject by ComRes in February. This actually challenges head on the idea that Christians are likely to vote as a bloc.
The omission may be explained by both churches and Christians who like the idea of appearing influential, and journalists who wouldn't have a story if they acknowledged the data. A political marriage of convenience if ever there was one.
But an analysis of the results makes some interesting reading, and actually challenges the idea that religious people (when considered as a whole) vote that much differently to others.
Key findings included:
There is no evidence that religious people are more likely to vote than others, despite claims to the contrary. Thirty-four per cent said they didn't vote at the last general election in 2005. A further six per cent refused to answer the question and three per cent couldn't remember. This would leave a total of betwen 57-66 per cent who voted. The turnout in 2005 was in the middle of this range at just under 62 per cent. Indeed, other ComRes surveys of the wider population mirror these percentages exactly.
In 2005 religious people voted for the main parties in the same way as the wider population The ComRes poll of the whole population conducted on 10th and 11th Feb 2010 asked: "Thinking back to the last general election in 2005, which party if any did you vote for?" The percentages were: Conservative 19 per cent, Labour 22 per cent, Lib Dem 12 per cent. These are identicial to the new results from the religious sample.
Religious people broadly reflect wider polls with regard to voting intent. When asked: “If there were a general election tomorrow, would you vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or some other party?” the results were Conservative 30 per cent, Labour 23 per cent, Lib Dem 16 per cent. The poll was conducted on 17th -18th Feb by ComRes. In a similar poll around the same time by the same pollsters but taking a sample of the whole population, voting intentions were Conservative 32 per cent, Labour 23 per cent, Lib Dem 17 per cent.
Most religious people don’t feel religious freedoms have been restricted in the last ten years Despite the constant stream of scare-stories in the Telegraph and tabloids, and dramatisation by some bishops and religious campaign groups, the majority (59 per cent) of religious people disagree with the statement that "Religious freedoms have been restricted in Britain over the past 10 years". Less than one third agree with the statement.
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