Russell Brand famously declared that he doesn’t vote and urged others to do the same. However a few days before the election, faced with the prospect of a Conservative majority he changed his mind and urged voters to choose Labour. Would it have made a difference if the sort of voters that may be influenced by Russell Brand had in fact voted labour?

Evidence of the age effect on turnout

The ONS (office of national statistics), provides a full breakdown of the number of people in each year class for each constituency.

Russell Brand is just turning 40, so in order to produce an age index for each constituency I grouped the data into under 40s (Russell Brand generation) and over 40s. I then calculated the percent of “older” people in each constituency in order to look at whether there was any consistent trend in turnout as a function of the age of the voting population. I used data for England and Wales without Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The results are very clear.

Note that this is not just the turnout of registered voters, which is most often reported. It is the percentage of the population that were old enough to vote that did in fact cast a vote. This is staggeringly low in some constituencies. They are all those with a high proportion of younger voters in the “Russell Brand” generation. A trend is very clear.

Evidence of the age effect on votes for Labour

Conservatives do very well in constituencies with a large proportion of older voters. Labour tend to win in constituencies with more younger voters. The conservatives only won in eight constituencies with a majority of voters under 40. Labour only won four constituencies with over 70% of the population over 40.

What would have happened if younger voters had turned out to vote labour?

It might be argued that if older voters are in the majority there is little point in voting if you are young. However the reverse could be true. The overall proportion of under 40s registered to vote and in fact voting is around 55%. There are therefore a large number of potential voters that labour could reach by inspiring them. In contrast a large proportion of potential conservative voters do in fact already vote. Although Labour cannot hope to win seats with a large proportion of older voters, getting the vote out where under 40s make up between 40 and 60% of the total voters could make a big difference.

I simulated a situation in which 20% of the under 40s in each constituency added their votes to labour (excluding Scotland).

So if 20% of the Russell Brand generation had in fact taken his final advice and gone out and voted labour, labour would have won a clear majority. Incidentally the total number involved would be around 3.5 million votes, which is just over the number of followers on Russell Brand’s facebook page.