Now in its 15th year, each Audit measures the ‘political pulse’ of the nation, providing a unique benchmark to gauge public opinion across Great Britain about politics and the political process.

Audit of Political Engagement 15: the 2018 report

Core indicators

Electoral events over the last few years may have acted as ‘electric shock therapy’ for political engagement. Compared to the first Audit in 2004, people’s certainty to vote and interest in and knowledge of politics are all higher, but their sense of political satisfaction and efficacy have declined.

Our pick of the findings

Youth engagement has risen but only in line with the population overall: a tremor, not a quake

Audit 2018 young people certainty to vote

Youth engagement has risen but only in line with the population overall: a tremor, not a quake

Among 18-24-year-olds, certainty to vote is 16 points higher than when the Audit began in 2004. It has risen five points since last year to 44%.

18-24s’ knowledge of politics is also up since Audit 1 in 2004, by eleven points (28% to 39%), as is their interest in politics (by six points, 35% to 41%) and their sense of political efficacy (also by six points, 35% to 41%). However, like the population overall, 18-24s are less satisfied with the system of governing Britain than they were at the start of the Audit series. 18-24s’ satisfaction with the system of governing Britain has deteriorated by seven points since Audit 1 in 2004 (35% to 28%).

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Age and interest in politics are significant factors in determining if someone has engaged politically online

Audit 2018 digital divide

Age and interest in politics are significant factors in determining if someone has engaged politically online

43% of all 18-34-year-olds say they watched politically-related videos online, but only 15% of over-55s say the same. 29% of 18-34s have visited the social media account of a politician or political party but only 12% of over-55s have done so. 21% of 18-34s have shared something politically-related online compared to 11% of over-55s.

52% of politically-interested people aged 55+ have undertaken no form of politically-related online engagement in the last 12 months; just 11% of politically-interested 18-34-year-olds say the same. 63% of 18-34s who say they are interested in politics report having watched politically-related video content; only 20% of those who are politically interested aged 55+ have done so.

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Traditional sources of news and information about politics remained the dominant ones at the June 2017 general election

Audit 2018 tv debates

Traditional sources of news and information about politics remained the dominant ones at the June 2017 general election

74% of those who watched party leaders’ debates and political interviews said they were important in deciding whether and which way to vote at the 2017 general election. This was the most important source of information that helped people decide what to do.

72% said that they were influenced by face-to-face discussions or conversations with other people. 49% were aware of parties’ printed campaign publicity, but just 34% of them said it was important in deciding whether and for whom to vote, the lowest score for any of the sources of election news and information tested. Overall, 69% said that news or news programmes on TV or radio were the leading source of election-related news or information.

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Digital and online are still a long way from overtaking more traditional forms of political engagement

Audit 2018 non-digital

Digital and online are still a long way from overtaking more traditional forms of political engagement

48% of the public say they undertook no form of online political engagement in the last year.

Watching politically-related video content (29%) and creating or signing an e-petition (28%) were the most popular forms of online political activity. 19% visited the website or social media account of a politician or political party, and only 12% say they followed a politician or political party on social media. 17% say they have shared something politically-related on social media, such as a news story, article or their own political statement.

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In people’s party choice, trust matters most, followed by policies and representation, with competence some way behind, but most people think political parties are just ineffective

Audit 2018 political parties

In people’s party choice, trust matters most, followed by policies and representation, with competence some way behind, but most people think political parties are just ineffective

32% said whether a party ‘can be trusted to keep its promises’ was the most important factor in determining their vote at the 2017 general election.

Whether a party ‘represents the interests of people like me’ is less important today (28%) than it was in 2007 (40%). Asked about five important aspects of a party’s role, never more than a quarter of the public say parties are good at the respective function. The public think that parties are better at ‘telling voters about the issues they feel are most important in Britain and how they will work to solve them’ (24%) than anything else. They rate parties most poorly for ‘providing a way for ordinary people to get involved with politics’ (16%).

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15 years of Audit findings and data

Download every Audit of Political Engagement since 2004, including their SPSS datasets and tables, covering 15 years of insight into public attitudes towards politics in Great Britain.

Audit 15 (2018)

Audit 14 (2017)

Audit 13 (2016)

Audit 12 (2015)

Audit 11 (2014)

Audit 10 (2013)

Audit 8 (2011)

Audit 7 (2010)

Audit 6 (2009)

Audit 5 (2008)

Audit 4 (2007)

Audit 3 (2006)

Audit 2 (2005)

Audit 1 (2004)