Category Archives: voting

13/12/19: UK Vote and Younger Voters

On foot of the UK General Elections results, here is a telling sign of the changing generational effects on voting with some questions for the U.S. 2020 election:

Given the above numbers, the 'younger voters tide of change' expected in 2020 in the U.S. elections is a function of two factors: turnouts and demographic concentrations. We are, of course, yet to get this data from the UK polls.

Worth thinking about these, if you are a political analyst.

Note: some data on voter turnout as of 627 MPs elections completed.

  • Turnout was about 67%; circa two-points lower than in 2017, signalling no upswell in political activism by the voters. Given that younger cohorts of eligible voters increased in numbers, while older cohorts diminished due to time lapse, this suggests that younger voters were not as energised to show up at the polls as media hype suggested.
  • Per Brunel University analysis: "youth turnout lagged well behind that of their elders. If we look at the 20 constituencies with the highest proportion of 18-35 year olds, the average turnout yesterday was 63%; the turnout for the 20 constituencies with the fewest 18-35 year olds was 72%." See:'s-car-crash-result-by-age-group. Again, evidence that the younger, more 'Remain', voters were not sufficiently fired up to show up at the polls. 
  • Per same source: "The decline in turnout since 2017 was also slightly greater – at 1.5 points lower – in those constituencies with more young adults than those with the fewest – where it was 0.8 points lower." Again, a signal of younger voter apathy?
  • Younger voters did go for Labour: "Labour held onto every one of the constituencies with the highest number of 18-35 year olds that it won in 2017."
Here is a really damning conclusion, emphasis mine: "What is clear is that, once again, claims of a youthquake – a sharp rise in turnout among young voters that would benefit the Labour party – have proven well short of the mark. At no point in the campaign have the opinion polls suggested that a youth turnout surge would materialise, but there was a great deal of excitement surrounding the surge in voter registrations among the under-35s – 2.8 million between October and December of this year, more than half a million more than in the same period before the 2017 election – which fuelled claims that a youthquake was on the horizon."

20/5/16: Migrating Extremism: Long Run Impact on Voters Preferences

What happens when there is a systemic pattern of migration across borders and geographies that captures migration by political extremists?

This is neither a trivial question nor an esoteric one. It is non-trivial, because, to the best of my knowledge, we are yet to have a good understanding of what happens in the aftermath of military and political efforts to curb extremism. Curbing extremism pushes some of it into underground, but if attempts to curb extremism are not uniform across various geographies, it also incentivises selective migration of large numbers of extremists to those locations, where the efforts to curb their ideologies and behaviour are less strong. If so, when such a migration is feasible on large enough scale, asymmetric treatment of extremists across two geographies can lead to a concentration of extremists in that geography where they are treated more leniently.

This is the logic. What about the evidence?

Here is a fascinating study by Ochsner, Christian and Roesel, Felix, titled Migrating Extremists (March 10, 2016) published so far as a CESifo Working Paper (Series No. 5799:

Quoting their abstract (emphasis is mine):

  • "We show that migrating extremists shape political landscapes toward their ideology in the long run
  • "We exploit the unexpected division of the state of Upper Austria into a US and a Soviet occupation zone after WWII. Zoning prompts large-scale Nazi migration to US occupied regions
  • "Regions that witnessed a Nazi influx exhibit significantly higher voting shares for the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) throughout the entire post-WWII period, but not before WWII. 
  • "We can exclude other channels that may have affected post-war elections, including differences in US and Soviet denazification and occupation policies, bomb attacks, Volksdeutsche refugees and suppression by other political parties. 
  • "We show that extremism is transmitted through family ties and local party branches. We find that the surnames of FPÖ local election candidates in 2015 in the former US zone are more prevalent in 1942 phonebook data (Reichstelefonbuch) of the former Soviet zone compared to other parties."
This is pretty much nuclear. Migration of individuals holding extremist beliefs, when systematically biased in favour of a specific location, does lead to concentration of extremist voters and such concentration is robust over time. Big lessons to be learned for today's migration regulation and institutional environment, as well as the systems of incentives and pressures that drive the migrant selection mechanisms.