The results of the Palatinate General Election Survey are in, and Labour and Conservative are almost neck and neck.
In a staggeringly close survey, 29.9% of the 1,229 Durham students who took part in the survey say they will vote Labour, compared to 29.5% saying they will vote Conservative (close to the national average of 33%).
This comes in contrast to the poll conducted by High Fliers in March, which interviewed 572 Durham finalists and found that the University’s students planned to vote overwhelmingly Tory, with 45% of those surveyed claiming they would vote for the Conservatives. The remarkable difference in findings is likely to reflect the rise in Ed Miliband’s popularity over Easter, and in the difference in samples, with the High Fliers poll exclusively selecting final-year students.
The next most popular party amongst Durham students is the Green Party, taking 16% of votes. This suggests that, despite equal support for Labour and Conservative, Durham students are left-leaning.
Support for the Liberal Democrats is expected to be low amongst students following their concession to raise University tuition fees to £9,000 under the coalition.
Just 8.9 % of Durham students say they will be voting for the Liberal Democrats, despite their status as the second most popular party among the city’s electorate.
4.3% of Durham students say they will be voting UKIP, compared to 14% of the national population. UKIP’s policies have been generally regarded as unpopular amongst young people.
Students can register to vote in both their home constituency and at University but can only vote in one. Palatinate asked where Durham students were planning to vote in this election. 52% revealed that they will vote in Durham, Stockton North or Stockton South. If the results of Palatinate’s poll are reflected on Election Day, 7,000 students will be voting within Durham City, which in 2010 had an electorate of 69,926.
When asked what they considered to be the most important issue at the General Election, Durham students remained undecided.
The two most important issues for students are social welfare (15.6%) and education (14.4%).
Government borrowing, the NHS and jobs also had high responses. Despite being prominently discussed in the election campaigns, only 5% say that they think immigration is the most important issue.
Many of those that responded ‘other’ said they were concerned about the economy more generally.
Durham City is expected to remain a safe Labour seat this year, despite there only being a marginal victory of 3,067 over the Liberal Democrats in 2010.
The predicted percentage of votes in Durham differs dramatically from the student population. According to our survey, Durham students are just as likely to vote Labour as they are Conservative.
Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP are all expected to have higher percentages of the vote, and Green and Conservative lower. Historically the centre of Durham has been mostly Liberal Democrat with the former mining villages surrounding it boosting the Labour vote.
Stockton South is currently held by Conservatives, but is expected to return to Labour this election. Stockton North is considered a safe Labour seat.
The Palatinate General Election survey serves purely as an indication of the voting intentions of Durham students and is unlikely to be entirely accurate.