Majority of young people support EU membership – but half might not even vote

Poll finds 18 to 34-year-olds could sway EU referendum

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A new poll suggests young people could determine whether Britain leaves the European Union, with a majority saying they would vote to ‘remain’ in the June 23 referendum.

But the prospects for them swaying the result are tempered by a general problem – low turnout among younger voters.

An online survey of 1,966 adults by Opinium, conducted for the Observer newspaper, found that 53 percent of those aged 18 to 34 would vote for Britain to stay in the EU if the referendum were held now.

That compares with 29 percent who would leave and 18 percent who said they don’t know.

This was by far the highest of the three age groups polled.

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Opinium for Observer newspaper
Source: Opinium for the Observer newspaper

By contrast, 42 percent of those aged 35 to 54 favoured leaving the EU, while 38 percent would remain, and 54 percent of over-55s would vote to leave, versus just 30 percent who would vote to stay.

But when asked how likely they would be to vote if the referendum were held now, choosing on a scale from 1 to 10, a mere half (52 percent) of 18 to 34-year-olds said they would ‘definitely’ cast a vote.

This compares with strong plans to turnout among older voters

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(Source: Opinium for the  Observer newspaper)
Source: Opinium for the Observer newspaper

A solid 66 percent of those aged 35 to 54 said they would ‘definitely’ head to the polling station.

And a huge 81 percent majority of over-55s said they would ‘definitely’ vote in the referendum.

Since older people are more likely to support Brexit, a failure of young people to vote in the referendum could mean Britain leaving the EU. 

Last year, only 43 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the general election.

If that precedent and this new poll is anything to go by, the ‘remain’ camp will need to do more to ensure young people turnout to vote in June.

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