John Curtice's research while affiliated with University of Strathclyde and other places

Publications (265)

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Leading expert Sir John Curtice uses opinion poll evidence to investigate the question which is perhaps the key puzzle in interpreting the 2019 outcome—to what extent was this ‘a Brexit election’? The chapter reviews the polling trends on this critical issue, analyses how Leave and Remain supporters voted in the 2019 General Election and how this d...
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The choices voters made in response to the principal question put before them in the 2019 election—should Brexit be done—had a significant impact on the geography of party performance. Leave constituencies swung strongly to the Conservatives, while the party lost support in Remain seats. Labour struggled above all in the most pro-Leave parts of the...
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Parties that are distinctive and united on the libertarian‐authoritarian dimension of politics pose a significant challenge to the UK's two‐party system
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The advent of devolution in Scotland and Wales might have been expected to stimulate increased public support for devolution for England, not least because of a heightened sense of English identity. However, the various arguments in favour of devolution in England point to different schemes of devolution. There appears to have been an increase in t...
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Has the tide of public opinion turned in favour of more taxation and public spending, and will it necessarily help Labour's prospects at the next general election?
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The Labour party cannot ignore its newly acquired liberal voters if it is to win the next election
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This chapter tells the story of the Liberal Democrats between 2015 and 2017. It begins by describing the party’s disastrous performance in the 2015 general election and their dramatic loss of support from participating in the 2010 coalition government. It examines how the party under its new leader, Tim Farron, sought to capitalise on the 2016 Brex...
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In both domestic and foreign policy, having the right policies is not enough; Labour must prove its capability to lead if it is to win the next election
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Scotland has long seemed politically apart from England and Wales. That trend reached its apogee with the SNP landslide in 2015. Yet now it is a country that is full of marginal seats whose outcome can potentially be decisive in the Britain-wide battle between Labour and the Conservatives. The roots of this development are traced as a product of an...
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Full-text available
In Britain, levels of political trust have declined, stimulating policy makers to explore ways of appealing to discontented citizens. One such initiative involves reform of the political system. Yet, this raises the question of which types of political reform are likely to appeal to discontented citizens. Existing studies have examined how individu...
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In order to better understand the potential for both policy and technological improvements to aid carbon abatement, long-term historical information on the time-path of transition from more traditional to cleaner fuels is useful. This is a relatively understudied element of the fuel switching literature in both developed and emerging economies. Thi...
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While most pollsters and pundits expected the Conservatives to win an increased majority in Britain's June election, the election day exit poll forecast something different. John Curtice, Stephen Fisher, Jouni Kuha and Jonathan Mellon explain how the poll works, and why it made the right call
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Labour's anxiety about being outflanked by Ukip and the Conservatives on the Leave side, while justified, may be blinding it to a more urgent problem in its electoral base, warns John Curtice. Tim Farron's Liberal Democrats are setting out a stall for Remain voters that Labour supporters are steadily trickling, if not flocking, towards.
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Labour won fewer seats in 2015 than in 2010, even though its share of the vote increased. The decline in representation was occasioned by three features of the electoral geography of the 2015 contest—a collapse in Labour support in Scotland, a particularly strong Conservative advance in marginal seats and the fact that in England and Wales Labour's...
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Using the latest polling data, John Curtice investigates Labour supporters' stance on the EU referendum result – do they favour immigration controls over free trade? Hard or soft Brexit? He finds plenty of contradictions in a complex picture – but what should the party do to reflect its voters' views? Abstract Using the latest polling data, John C...
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Neither the strength of the refreshed Conservative party's position in the polls, nor Labour's proximity to Armageddon, should be overstated, warns John Curtice. Theresa May's prime ministerial ‘honeymoon’ boost in the polls is modest and likely to be brief, and Jeremy Corbyn is more divisive than he is unpopular.
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Demographic divisions lay at the heart of the referendum vote, John Curtice shows, with stark lines between Labour's working-class and middle-class support. There may be little evidence that Corbyn was to blame for Remain's loss, he says, but that campaign nonetheless failed to address the underlying concerns of a big part of its electorate.
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Previous research has suggested that attitudes towards the European Union (EU) are shaped by two sets of considerations-economic and cultural. Using data from the 2015 British Social Attitudes survey, this article assesses which matters more in shaping attitudes in Britain towards the EU as the country prepares to vote in a referendum on whether it...
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This May, British voters will cast ballots for a smorgasbord of different institutions under a plethora of different systems. Given that politicians of all stripes will make claims of vindication and accusations of failure on the basis of these election results, pollster John Curtice explains what, if anything, the numbers will actually tell us.
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John Curtice sketches out the polling data on the EU referendum question, and finds a nation divided. With the prime minister's negotiation demands now in the open, he asks, has Cameron set the bar too low to secure the support of his own party and his voters?
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May's General Election brought an unexpected Conservative victory alongside significant gains for formerly fringe parties. John Curtice analyses the results and finds the old certainties of British politics fast disappearing.
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Recent polls suggest that there is more to be learned about Labour's election result – and its future prospects – from public perceptions of leadership and competence than from judgments about the party's supposed moves towards the left or right, argues John Curtice.
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Discussion of sectarianism often focuses on evidence purporting to show discriminatory behaviour directed at Catholics or Protestants in Scotland. But attitudes also matter – in sustaining (or preventing) such discriminatory behaviours, and in understanding the nature of the ‘problem of sectarianism’ from the perspective of the Scottish public. Thi...
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John Curtice feels that there is no single straightforward explanation for Labour's election losses, either in Scotland or in Britain as a whole. However, there is little prospect of the party regaining power unless the party recovers at least some of the ground that it has lost in Scotland. If the SNP were to again secure the 50-per-cent share of...
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John Curtice argues that if the latest opinion polls play out in the general election, the ensuing quarrel of post-election negotiations and the real prospect of a minority government filling. Three months out, the 2015 election appears to be holding out the possibility that some and maybe all of these features of the February 1974 result will be r...
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Party stances The Liberal Democrats have long exhibited a particular interest in constitutional and electoral reform. For many years the party has wanted to get rid of an electoral system for the House of Commons that does it no favours. Ever since the late nineteenth century it has expressed a belief in ‘home rule’ and thus in separately elected d...
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John Curtice argues that globalisation is fragmenting our party system, as those who have lost out from economic change and who are concerned about its downsides turn away from the established parties. Labour in particular is in danger, he says, of losing its claim to be the party that stands up for the exploited and disadvantaged.
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John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, finds that three factors without recent precedent, a fixed-term parliament, an incumbent coalition government and an insurgent fourth party in the form of Ukip, mean that there are more unknowns than clear indications. Labour still remain ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, albeit...
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Unsurprisingly, opinion polls of how people intend to vote in the referendum on 18 September have become a prominent feature of the referendum campaign. At first glance they have painted a picture of remarkable stability, albeit with some narrowing of the lead of the No side over Yes during the winter of 2014. However, different companies’ polls ha...
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As has been the case in a number of countries, parents in England have increasingly been given the opportunity to choose between different types of schools. Doing so is regarded as a way of meeting individual needs and improving academic standards. Faith-based schools long predate this move towards a more diversified educational system, but have co...
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John Curtice reviews the results from the recent elections, including Ukip's unprecedented bid to establish fourth-party credentials and the challenges facing the two traditional major parties of Westminster politics.
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John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, highlights the pro-union vote that could turn it for the Yes side for Scotland to decide whether it wishes to remain part of the UK or to become an independent country. The prospect that an independent Scotland might not be able to use the pound had already been taken on board by many v...
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Labor's proposal for an energy freeze might have won the contest for the most popular policy proposal of the 2013 party conference season, but neither it nor Ed Miliband's well-received conference speech has had any immediate impact on the party's depressed standing in the polls. The party's average rating in October, 37 per cent, was exactly the s...
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John Curtice shines a light on Labour's slowly dwindling lead in the polls and concludes that there is real cause for concern for an opposition with designs on victory in 2015.
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At the 2010 UK election, Labour proposed a referendum on changing the House of Commons electoral system from single member plurality to the Alternative Vote. Subsequently, a coalition was formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, yet it was Labour's policy on electoral reform that was implemented. The paper explains why this prove...
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John Curtice looks back on a momentous local elections season for Ukip and its implications both for the three main parties at Westminster and the future of British politics. People do not always vote in the same way in local elections as they would in a general election, while there is always the possibility that the wheel of fortune will turn onc...
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The Labor Party in the UK needs to re-establish its own economic credentials in the eyes of the public if it wants to succeed in 2015. Labor would be unwise solely to rely on an ailing economy as its pathway to power. As well as taking every opportunity to attack the Coalition's record, it needs to convince voters that it has the ideas and ability...
Chapter
Full-text available
Despite some increase in levels of trust since the MPs' expenses scandal, people express considerable scepticism about politicians and government. Meanwhile, the proportion who would prefer Britain to be governed by a coalition rather than a single party has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. Popular reforms Most people, including those with...
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We examine how much the public say they want choice in the provision of public services, and how far perceptions of the amount of choice they feel they should and do have are related to satisfaction with public services. Our findings cast critical light on some of the claims made by both opponents and advocates of choice about the value the public...
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In his regular column for Juncture, John Curtice looks at British public attitudes towards Europe and questions whether apparent moves towards Euroscepticism by politicians and the public are real or just par for the course.
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John Curtice reviews the latest findings of the British Social Attitudes survey, which suggest that the recession and economic downturn have done little to engender support for more active government. According to Miliband, the financial crisis has led people to question the post-1970s consensus about the extent to which unfettered markets always r...
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In his new regular column for Juncture, leading British politics expert John Curtice explains why Labour and the Liberal Democrats will need each other come 2015.
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This chapter illustrates that the 'West Lothian Question' is not an issue between the Scottish and English public. It explains how the attitudes of those living on both sides of the border have developed in the immediate wake of the creation of the Scottish Parliament. It specifically highlights the three sets of attitudes that might be thought to...
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John Curtice analyses the AV campaign, the result and the implications for electoral reform of the vote against AV. On 5 May, the UK electorate voted overwhelmingly against adopting the Alternative Vote system. John Curtice analyses the AV campaign, the result and considers the implications of the referendum on the future of electoral reform in Bri...
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In the first of three articles by writers looking back at the UK local and devolved elections in May and considering their implications for the future, electoral reform expert John Curtice asks whether the elections signaled the end of the beginning of political pluralism in the UK.Iain McWhirter finds a re-elected Scottish National Party playing t...
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An exit poll conducted on behalf of the three main UK broadcasting organizations for the 2010 general election predicted that the Liberal Democrats would win fewer seats than in 2005, a suggestion that was met with widespread disbelief amongst commentators. Not only did this forecast prove correct, but the poll’s prediction that the Conservatives w...
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Researchers have paid little attention to the way citizens evaluate different electoral systems. This reflects the limited knowledge citizens are presumed to have about alternative electoral arrangements. However, the establishment of a legislature under new electoral rules creates conditions in which citizens can make more informed judgements. Suc...
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Research highlights ► After three electoral victories in a row, but then an extended period of unpopularity, Labour lost power. ► The Conservatives failed to secure an overall majority for themselves. ► Together with the Liberal Democrats the Conservatives formed the first peacetime coalition since the 1930s. ► Instead of being exceptional, coaliti...
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Single-member plurality is often thought to facilitate a two-party system of alter-nating single-party majority government. However, no party secured an overall majority in the 2010 UK election, which was followed by the formation of the first peacetime coalition government since the 1930s. This article assesses whether this outcome was a one-off o...
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Behind the headlines, the big story of May's election is the continuing demise of Britain's two-party system, writes John Curtice. Hung parliament; Labour's second-worst defeat since 1918; the Conservatives going into coalition with the Liberal Democrats; the Greens' first MP. Behind the headlines, the big story of the recent general election, writ...
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Reviews the links between voters’ policy preferences and public policy over the last six general elections and finds a cyclical pattern in public attitudes towards the balance between tax and spending.
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Opinion polls in Britain display a persistent tendency to overestimate Labour's share of the vote in the ballot box. This appears to arise from failure to secure a politically representative sample and to estimate accurately who will actually vote. We argue that, despite some potential pitfalls, polls based on fresh cross-section samples have to en...
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Examining the waxing and waning of public opinion over the past decade, John Curtice provides an early analysis of why Labour lost so badly in 2010's general election. Was the dominant factor the party's ideological positioning or the public's loss of faith in its ability to govern? Copyright (c) 2010 The Author. Journal compilation (c) 2010 ippr.

Citations

... In the three cases where electoral reform has been recent, we have little evidence to suggest that voters have dramatically different levels of trust, efficacy , satisfaction, and confidence. Indeed, in the Scottish case, attitudes appear more negative than they did before devolution (Bromley and Curtice 2003 ). In part, examining voter attitudes is particularly difficult because it relates not just to the electoral system, but to a number of political inputs. ...
... The future of British politics will depend on the effects that the departure from the Single Market and Customs Union will have on the economy and on the State of the Union. According to a 2020 pool, 54% of Scottish voters are in favour of independence, while this figure rises to no less than 60% if we consider those who voted to remain in the EU (Curtice, 2021). In May 2021 a parliamentary election will take place in Scotland, and the Scottish National Party will seek support for holding a second referendum on independence. ...
... There is no doubt that Brexit featured heavily in the election campaigns of each of the three major political parties at this election. Yet, some argue that the outcome of this election was driven less by a successful "pro-leave" movement that secured the departure and more by a more general national dissatisfaction, in which voters were angry with the drawn-out constitutional processes of the UK government and wanted the Brexit process simply to end (Curtice, 2016;Flinders, 2020a). Indeed, the 2019 election was called to ostensibly solve the constitutional paralysis that emerged in attempting to enact the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum. ...
... That may make it more likely that the public will accept the costin terms of taxation and/or borrowingthat will be occasioned by the government's attempt to provide relief for workers during the coronavirus public health crisis. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that there will be much opposition to the inevitable increase in health service spending that will be occasioned by Covid-19 in the short run at least, though whether it will help bring about a change in the funding of social care is less clear" (Curtice, 2020). ...
... The 2019 election saw important shifts in electoral support across geographic and socio-economic fault-lines. The Conservative Party achieved a decisive victory, and the Labour Party suffered notable defeats in constituencies that had traditionally formed the party's northern, working-class stronghold (Curtice 2020). The Conservatives successfully courted these voters through explicit appeals to pro-Brexit sentiment and conservative social values (Cutts et al. 2020). ...
... The Conservatives deliberately chose not to campaign whole-heartedly, aware that the election highlighted their failure to deliver Brexit as promised, and the party's vote share of 8.8% was the lowest it had ever polled in a national election (Curtice, 2019). According to polling by Ashcroft, Conservative support was fairly equally split between Leave and Remain supporters. ...
... Support for the party halved within a few months. 52 The sense of betrayal was heightened by the coalition government's cuts to public spending that appalled many of the left-of-centre voters who had 'lent' the Liberal Democrats their votes. At the 2015 general election the Liberal Democrats experienced their own 'costs of ruling'. ...
... Meanwhile, Labour and the Conservatives had, between them, obtained 47.5% of the vote in 2014, with this figure reduced to 22.4% by 2019, a decline of over 50% of the 2014 vote. The Liberal Democrats (on 19.6%) and the Greens (on 11.8%) also performed well, especially relative to their vote-shares in previous elections, while the SNP (on 2.6%) obtained a similar share of the vote to its performance in 2017, down somewhat from the impressive performance at the 2015 general election (Agnew, 2018;Curtice, 2018). ...
... However, the 2017 election was the first at which the difference between the Conservatives' mean share of the two-party vote and their overall share fell even though there had not been a boundary review. This was because (i) turnout increased more in Labour-held seats than in Conservative ones and (ii) there was a tendency for the Conservatives to perform more strongly in areas that voted Leave, a pattern that resulted in more of the party's vote being garnered in smaller constituencies (Curtice, 2017a). The first of these patterns was not repeated in 2019. ...
... Work on regret in voters suggests that it reveals the extent to which their vote was discordant with the voter's underlying preferences (Blais & Kilibarda, 2016). In this vein, voter regret was the topic of much speculation following the Brexit referendum (see Curtice, 2018). On the contrary, experiencing less regret after voting for an election-winner has been suggested as a psychological benefit of backing the winner, also known as a ''bandwagon effect'' (Blais & Kilibarda, 2016). ...