The Pre-Election Student Vote | November 2019

Voting | 28 Nov 2019

YouthSight has been tracking the Student Vote since 2004. Our latest wave of research (wave 143) was conducted 8th - 11th November 2019. 
Prior to this, the previous wave was conducted in early October 2019 and reported at the end of that month.  Note, the General Election was announced on 29th October 2019, approximately 10 days prior to the start of fieldwork.  We publish all our student voting data in both tabular form and as online charts that can be interrogated (latest wave pending).  

Party preference

In terms of party preference, Labour have been gaining share since the October 2019 wave. 

Amongst those highly likely to vote, Labour now enjoys 53% support from students, up from 38% in August 2019 and 43% in October 2019.  So, Labour’s student vote seems to be firming up, however, it’s still a long way off the 68% support that Labour enjoyed immediately prior to the 2017 General Election.  Labour’s student vote is stronger among women than men (57% v 47%) and BME student than white students (66% v 49%) and ‘Post ‘92’ universities than older and specialist institutions (60% v 46%).

The Liberal Democrat’s share of the student vote has fallen since the October wave. Just 16% of student now claim to support them, compared to 22% in October.  They are now polling just one percentage point above the Conservatives who are on 15%, up from 11% in our previous wave of research in October. 

Likelihood to vote

Turnout is always critically important at election time, especially when considering younger populations like students, fewer of whom traditionally participate compared to older voters. 

In our latest wave of student voting research, three quarters (75%) of eligible students rate themselves as 'highly likely' to vote (on a 0 to 10 scale they rate their likelihood to vote at 8, 9 or 10).  This is up from 71% in the previous wave (October 2019) however, it’s a fairly typical result for the overall period since April 2016.

Leader favourability

We measure leader favourability by asking students to rate the leaders of the traditional top three parties on a 1 to 10 scale from ‘strongly dislike’ to ‘strongly like’.  We derive net favourability by subtracting the proportion giving a 0 to 3 rating from the proportion giving a 7 to 10 rating. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s net rating is up from +1% in October to +8% in November.  Boris Johnson’s rating is still close to our all-time low rating for any party leader with a score of -54% (he reached our all-time party leader low in October with a rating of -57%).  And Jo Swinson, whose popularity had been climbing rapidly to almost meet Jeremy Corbyn’s, has fallen back in November from her October rating of -2% to her current -7%.


YouthSight has been tracking the student vote in the UK since 2004. In that time, we have run 143 waves of polling. Each wave of fieldwork is run using YouthSight’s Student Omnibus survey.  The latest wave (142)  was conducted 8th-11th November 2019.  The sample for the Student Omnibus is based on a representative sample of full-time undergraduate students at UK universities.  Quotas are set for course year (1,2,3+), gender and university type (Russell Group, pre-1992 universities, post-1992 universities and specialist institutions). Targets for the quotas are acquired using the latest data supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Weights are also occasionally used to ensure the sample is fully representative.  A sample size of approximately 1000 students is used in each wave. All respondents taking part in the voting questions are eligible to vote in UK elections. For the Brexit questions, eligibility status is made clear in the tables.  All participants are members of YouthSight’s 150,000-strong online research panel.  All completers receive around £1 to £2 in shopping voucher credits.

Turnout question

When reporting likely turnout, we consider only those we regard as having a high likelihood to vote. We base this on the question, “How likely would you be to vote in an immediate General Election?”, We measure anticipated turnout by looking at those who rate their likelihood to vote in an immediate General Election at 8, 9 or 10 on a 1 to 10 scale where 1 is “absolutely certain not to vote” and 10 is “absolutely certain to vote”.

Party preference question

When looking at party preference, we only regard the views of those we consider to be highly likely to vote (i.e. rate themselves an 8, 9 or 10 on the Turnout question). Furthermore, we remove the ‘don’t know’ answers from the base, so when we talk about the share of the student vote, we automatically mean ‘among those who are eligible to vote, express a preference and are highly likely to vote’.  The voting preference question we have asked consistently, for the past fifteen years is, “How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?”  We give pre-coded choices for all the major parties of the day: currently that is: Labour, Lib Dem, Conservative, SNP/Plaid Cymru, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party, UKIP, BNP, Sinn Fein, DUP, SDLP, Ulster Unionist Party, Brexit Party and Change UK (The Independent Group) and "Another party". 

Leader favourability questions

We measure leader favourability by asking participants to rate how they “feel” about each of the party leaders (Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem only) on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means “strongly dislike” and 10 means “strongly like”.  We calculate the favourability score by taking the percentage who score 7, 8, 9 or 10 and subtracting from that the percentage scoring 0, 1, 2 or 3.  We disregard the views of those who offer scores 4 to 6 simply because we want to try and establish the net views of those with a strongly positive or negative perspective.


YouthSight was established in 2004.  We are an independent specialist market research agency, focused on 16-30s.  Our culturally minded and commercially driven researchers steer brands and universities to fully maximise their relationship with Gen Z and Millennials.  Our panel & data services division provides agencies with access to our 150,000-strong panel of 16-30s and comprehensive research data services.

We would like to thank the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Open Britain (People's Vote) and Times Higher Education for their contributions in developing our questions, especially our Brexit questions, over the last few years.

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