Labour is solidly ahead of the Conservatives with voters under 40 years old, despite being more than 20 points behind in the polls overall, according to a significant new poll.
The mega-poll of nearly 13,000 voters by YouGov conducted over a two and a half week period found Jeremy Corbyn would be heading to Downing Street were the election decided by 18-40 year olds.
Labour is particular popular with women under 40, who split 42 per cent in favour of Mr Corbyn’s party and 27 per cent for Theresa May’s. Twelve per cent support the Lib Dems. Men under 40 also back Labour by 32 per cent to 31 per cent for the Conservatives, with 18 per cent backing the Lib Dems.
But Labour is well behind in the polls overall – by about 20 points – because of a significantly lower expected turnout among young voters and a huge generational divide.
The headline voting intention figures from the same poll are 44 per cent for the Tories, 25 per cent for Labour, Ukip 9 per cent, Lib Dems 12 per cent, and Green Party 3 per cent.
A clue to the gap comes because those under 40 report being significantly less likely to vote than those over 40. Just more than 40 per cent of the younger cohort say they are “certain to vote” compared with 64 per cent of the older cohort.
The divide in the poll mirrors the split at the European Union referendum, where older voters pulled Britain out of the European Union against the overwhelming wishes of younger voters.
Younger and older voters have not always split this way. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher attracted a large proportion of younger voters, with 42 per cent of 18-24 year olds backing her at that election, according to Ipsos Mori polls from the time.
Support for the Conservatives at this time was particularly strong among middle class women – a mirror of the current situation where women lean strongly towards Labour.
Housing tenure, one of the best predictors of how a person will vote, has mapped closely with age in recent decades. Older voters are now overwhelmingly more likely to own a home while younger voters cannot afford to do so – with the gulf increasingly growing. Voters over 65 are also overwhelmingly less likely to be in work.
YouGov’s poll of 12,746 adults was conducted between 2 and 20 April. The deliberately large poll was conducted so that sub-samples of the electorate could be examined without a large margin of error.