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What do women think about the general election?

Three months before the UK goes to the polls, what are women voters thinking? Jane Garvey discusses how women voters could decide the election.

Woman's Hour reveals the findings of new research it has commissioned into what women make of British politics and their lives. We hear about the issues women care about, how they're feeling as the election approaches - and, what the differences are between men and women. We discuss what it might mean for the political parties who are after women's votes.

Jane Garvey speaks to Michelle Harrison, CEO of TNS BMRB about the research she's carried out for the programme. And Jane will also be joined by Allegra Stratton, Political Editor of Newsnight; Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman; and, Beth Rigby, Deputy Political Editor of the Financial Times.

A few findings from TNS BMRB research for BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour:

- Polling suggests women are much less certain they'll vote than men - only 55% say they're certain to vote vs. 65% of men.

- Women polled say NHS is biggest issue - men too at 50%, but women at 59% are far more likely to say it's the NHS.

- 48% of women polled say none of the named GB party leaders understands what life is like for them and their family.

- Top five issues of concern for women polled: NHS; Cost of living; Cost of caring for family; immigration; and, education.

- Future women leaders? Of those polled 44% think Theresa May would make a good leader; 38% think Yvette Cooper would.

- 60% of women in social group C2DE say they're worried about the future.

Presenter: Jane Garvey
Producer: Ruth Watts.

Available now

58 minutes

Summary of the results of polling carried out for Woman’s Hour by TNS-BMRB:

Voting Intentions

Women are significantly less certain than men on whether they will vote. 65% of men say they will definitely vote, compared to 55% of women. And almost 1 in 4 women aged 18-34 (24%) are unlikely to vote in the election.

Over a third of women (35%) don’t know who they will vote for in the general election, which is 10% higher than men (25%). Women under 34 are the least certain about how they will vote, more than 4 in 10 don’t know.

Nearly half (48%) of all women with children claimed they did not vote in the last election. A third of women without children claimed to have not voted in 2010.

Around six in ten men and women know definitely which party they will vote for. And, nearly 4 in 10 men and women may change their mind on who they plan to vote for.


Future Female Leaders

Over two fifths (44%) of all adults think Theresa May would perform well as the leader of the Conservative Party. However, significantly fewer think Yvette Cooper would perform well as the leader of the Labour Party (38%).

More men think Theresa May would perform badly as leader compared to women (33% vs. 20%), similarly more men than women think Yvette Cooper would perform badly as leader (26% vs. 19%).

Just under a third (30%) claim they ‘don’t know’ if Theresa May would perform well, with significantly more (40%) unsure of how well Yvette Cooper would perform.

 

Parties and Leaders – Understanding the issues affecting people

The Labour party was rated as the party that best understands the issues faced by families, with one in five choosing them (20%),  significantly fewer think the Conservative party understands the issues facing them and their families (16%). A similar proportion of women and men think the Labour party best understands the issues faced by them and their families (20% vs. 19%), but significantly more men think the Conservative Party understands the issues they and their families face, than women do (21% vs. 12%).

1 in 4 women feel like none of the political parties understand the issues that worry them and their families. The majority of adults don’t think that any of the main party leaders understands what life is really like for families (45%). 48% of women feel that none of the party leaders understand what life is like for them and their families.

Just over one in ten believe David Cameron (13%) or Ed Milliband (11%) understand what life is really like, with significantly more men than women (15% vs. 10%) thinking David Cameron best understands what life is really like.

Top areas of concern:

The top five areas of concern for all adults were: the NHS (55%); the cost of living, including buying or renting a home (40%); Immigration (30%); The economy (including the deficit and unemployment) (26%); and, the cost of caring for family (25%).

The top five areas of concerns for women were: the NHS (59%); the cost of living, including buying or renting a home (40%); the cost of caring for family (30%); Immigration (29%); and, Education (28%)

The top five areas of concern for men were: the NHS (50%); the cost of living, including buying or renting a home (41%); Immigration (32%); The economy (including the deficit and unemployment) (31%); and, pensions (24%).


Worries about the future

A similar proportion of adults are worried and not worried about the future, with slightly fewer (48%) saying they are worried and 50% saying they are not worried. Significantly more women than men are worried about the future (52% vs. 43%). Significantly more women aged 45+ are worried about the future compared to those aged 18-44 (58% vs. 45%). 60% of women in the C2DE social grade categories are worried about the future. In social grade group E alone, 69% of women are worried about the future.

Significantly more women than men are concerned about the NHS and the cost of caring for their family. Education is also a greater concern for women than it is for men. On the other hand, whilst the NHS and the cost of living are also top concerns for men, men (31%) are significantly more concerned about the economy than women (21%).

Of those who said they were concerned about immigration, overall the majority were concerned about the impact it has on the welfare system (72%) and on the NHS (71%). There were no significant differences in the level of concern between the two gender groups for any of the areas immigration could have an impact on.

TNS Phonebus interviewed a representative sample of 975 adults in Great Britain between 23rd and 26th January 2015. All interviews were conducted via telephone. The data is weighted to match population totals for age, sex, social grade, working status, presence of children and region.

See the poll results in full at:

http://www.tns-bmrb.co.uk/news/poll-commissioned-by-bbc-radio-4-womans-hour

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Jane Garvey
Interviewed Guest Michelle Harrison
Interviewed Guest Allegra Stratton
Interviewed Guest Helen Lewis
Interviewed Guest Beth Rigby
Producer Ruth Watts

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