Not your average voter? How women will shape the general election

Date Posted: Wednesday 25th October 2023

General ElectionWomen's Votes

With a general election to be called any time in the next year, and with women making up over 50% of the electorate, understanding their voting intentions and policy priorities should be imperative to any party wanting to lead the next Government. Yet, a quarter of women are currently undecided on how they will vote at the next election according to polling conducted by YouGov for the Women’s Budget Group.

We delved into this data at our fringe events at the 2023 Conservative and Labour Party Conferences. Together with our expert panellists, we explored the pressing issues informing women’s voting intentions and how political Parties could significantly influence the outcome of the next general election by shifting their focus on women’s policy priorities. For the purpose of the events and this briefing, we took a closer look at the attitudes of women carers, analysing a cross-section of the data according to their caring responsibilities. This briefing provides a summary of this analysis, as well as reflections from our conference panelists.

On voting intentions the poll found that

  • 25% of women and 11% of men said that they were undecided about how to vote at the next election.
  • Labour had a larger lead among women than among men (14 points compared to 11 points).
  • Women are as likely to say they will vote Labour as men, but less likely to say they will vote Conservative (17% of women say they will vote Conservative compared to 20% of men).
  • Younger women are most likely to vote Labour (44%) with around one in twenty saying they would vote Conservative (4%) and Lib Dem (5%).
  • With increasing age, Labour’s lead decreases, with the Conservatives in the lead in over 65s (27%).
  • This is in line with a significant shift in women’s voting patterns. Until recently, women were more likely to vote Conservative than men. But each successive generation of women has been more inclined to vote Labour than their predecessors.

On political priorities the poll found:

  • Nearly two thirds of women (64%) and just under half of men (48%) named the NHS as a top priority.
  • 52% of women and 47% of men named cost of living/inflation as a top priority.
  • Women were more likely than men to name the environment and climate change (30% compared to 26%).
  • Men were more likely than women to name the economy (44% of men, 28% of women).
  • Women are most likely to trust Labour (23%) to improve gender equality, while the Conservatives rank lowest (4%). A significant percentage remains uncertain (33%) or believes no party would be most likely to tackle gender inequality (29%).

Women with caring responsibilities were more likely to prioritise care and education services.

  • Women caring for adults are more than twice as likely than the average voter to name social care as one of their top three priorities.
  • Women caring for children are more than three times as likely than the average voter to name childcare as one of their top three priorities.
  • Over a third of women caring for children (35%) named education as one of their top three priorities, compared to 14% of voters in general.

It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a homogenous group of ‘women’, but that women’s attitudes will differ according to their positionalities and intersecting inequalities across race, class, disability, sexuality, age, and region.