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Voter decision-making in a context of low political trust: the 2016 UK EU Membership Referendum

Voter decision-making in a context of low political trust: the 2016 UK EU Membership Referendum
Voter decision-making in a context of low political trust: the 2016 UK EU Membership Referendum
Using volunteer writing for Mass Observation, we explore how British citizens decided whether to leave the EU. The 2016 referendum was the biggest decision made by the British electorate in decades, but involved limited voter analysis. Many citizens did not have strong views about EU membership in early 2016. The campaigns did not help to firm up their views, not least because so much information appeared to be in dispute. Voters, often characterised as polarised, were reluctant and uncertain. Many citizens took their duty to decide seriously, but were driven more by hunch than careful analysis. In 2016, voters reacted against elites they did not trust at least as much as they embraced the ideas of trusted elites. This contrasts with the 1975 Referendum on the Common Market, when the vote was driven by elite endorsement. In low-trust contexts, voters use cues from elites as negative rather than positive stimulus.
EU Referendum, Mass Observation, elite cues, political trust, voter decision-making
0032-3217
Clarke, Nicholas
4ed65752-5210-4f9e-aeff-9188520510e8
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7
Moss, Jonathan T
e5478a0e-3666-4d70-84ed-dc4bba11784d
Stoker, Gerard
209ba619-6a65-4bc1-9235-cba0d826bfd9
Clarke, Nicholas
4ed65752-5210-4f9e-aeff-9188520510e8
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7
Moss, Jonathan T
e5478a0e-3666-4d70-84ed-dc4bba11784d
Stoker, Gerard
209ba619-6a65-4bc1-9235-cba0d826bfd9

Clarke, Nicholas, Jennings, William, Moss, Jonathan T and Stoker, Gerard (2021) Voter decision-making in a context of low political trust: the 2016 UK EU Membership Referendum. Political Studies. (doi:10.1177/00323217211003419).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Using volunteer writing for Mass Observation, we explore how British citizens decided whether to leave the EU. The 2016 referendum was the biggest decision made by the British electorate in decades, but involved limited voter analysis. Many citizens did not have strong views about EU membership in early 2016. The campaigns did not help to firm up their views, not least because so much information appeared to be in dispute. Voters, often characterised as polarised, were reluctant and uncertain. Many citizens took their duty to decide seriously, but were driven more by hunch than careful analysis. In 2016, voters reacted against elites they did not trust at least as much as they embraced the ideas of trusted elites. This contrasts with the 1975 Referendum on the Common Market, when the vote was driven by elite endorsement. In low-trust contexts, voters use cues from elites as negative rather than positive stimulus.

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Accepted/In Press date: 26 February 2021
Published date: 5 May 2021
Keywords: EU Referendum, Mass Observation, elite cues, political trust, voter decision-making

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447394
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447394
ISSN: 0032-3217
PURE UUID: 6e5312ed-4279-43ab-b70b-87f036004fdb
ORCID for Nicholas Clarke: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9148-9849
ORCID for William Jennings: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Mar 2021 17:43
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:58

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Contributors

Author: Nicholas Clarke ORCID iD
Author: Jonathan T Moss
Author: Gerard Stoker

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