Left-leaning graduates spotted

An interesting poll from Ipsos MORI gives us a little insight into the impact of university study on political leanings.

The fully weighted online poll asked people to rate their own political stance on a left-right axes. Usually we get people assigning themselves to political parties, so it is a nice surprise to see a more nuanced approach.

Cognitively, it isn’t a great question.

“Q7. Some people describe their political views as being left or right wing. How would describe the views of the following, would you say they are…? – Yourself

There’s no explanation of “left/right” as a concept – so we can’t be sure that all respondents understand the terms. Are the 2 per cent (overall) who describe the Conservative Party as “left wing” making a sophisticated point about state control and redistribution? Or have they got their left and right mixed up? No way to tell.

But we get age splits and splits by level of education (graduate or non graduate). The latter shows a clear tendency among graduates away from a “centre” position (or from “don’t know”) and towards the “centre left” or “left wing”.

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It’s not a massive sample, but it is statistically fair to say that graduates are more likely to be on the left, less likely to be in the centre, and more likely to express an opinion on this scale.

I also plotted the same question by age:

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Remembering that a greater proportion of young people have a university experience than ever before, you’d expect to see a similar pattern by age – but you do not. We don’t get cross-tabs, but you would expect to see more graduates in the younger age groups.

So the “lefty student” effect feels more like a “lefty graduate” effect, and we can hazard a guess that the effect is less pronounced than it has been. However we can note that the over-65s (fewer of whom are likely to be graduates, tend sharply right of centre.

Are National Trust tea rooms “centre-right madrassas”? I await comments about free speech in garden centres from Toby Young.

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