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John Simkin

Newspapers and the General Election

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Over the years there has been much discussion about the influence that newspapers have on their reader’s votes in elections. There definitely appears to be link between the political views expressed in newspapers and their readers’ voting behaviour. However, it is not clear if people buy newspapers because they reflect their own political views. The Sun newspaper claimed the morning after the Tories won the 1992 General Election that it was the “Sun Wot Won It”.

During the campaign the Sun trenchantly opposed the Labour Party. As a result 14% voted Labour and 65% voted Tory. In the 2001 election, the Sun supported New Labour (after a secret deal negotiated by Tony Blair with Rupert Murdoch, the Sun’s proprietor). As a result 52% voted Labour compared to 29% voting Tory.

If you look at the figures for how newspaper readers voted it can be seen that it virtually every case they mirrored the views of their newspaper. The one exception was the Financial Times that was unable to persuade its readers to support the Labour Party (48% voted Tory compared to 30% Labour).

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I would argue that people do buy newspapers that tell them what they want to hear. Often as is the case with tabloids such as the sun , the journalists writing the articles are just as hungry for scandal as their readers, they appear to be on the same level. In Ireland, The Irish times is the most favoured paper by business people, as the standard and perspective of the articles show. Most people would stick their nose up at the irish independent which professes the same political standpoint as the times but has more adverts and the stories are generally dumbed down considerably.

With regard to polarising and influencing votes I would have to say that broadsheet readers are more likely to have existing political affiliations to either the right (tories) or left (labour, lib dems) but that the tabloid readers, not to sound like a snob, are not exactly likely to have as well formed opinions of the parties and would be more easily swayed by whatever scandals the paper has unearthed.

In short I would sadly seem tabloids more influential in swinging votes either way.

John

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Guest Stephen Turner
During the campaign the Sun trenchantly opposed the Labour Party. As a result 14% voted Labour and 65% voted Tory. In the 2001 election, the Sun supported New Labour (after a secret deal negotiated by Tony Blair with Rupert Murdoch, the Sun’s proprietor). As a result 52% voted Labour compared to 29% voting Tory.

If you look at the figures for how newspaper readers voted it can be seen that it virtually every case they mirrored the views of their newspaper. The one exception was the Financial Times that was unable to persuade its readers to support the Labour Party (48% voted Tory compared to 30% Labour).

John.. where did you get the figures, as I read some-time ago (can't remember where) That newspapers had little effect on how most people voted. Other issues, class, family etc, were much more important factors...

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