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Lightbox Loves: Election Special​

the7stars Insight team has been hard at work collating research on the 2024 UK general election. While there has been no shortage of insights about the general election, the7stars took a different approach, focusing on bringing the collective voices of the nation to the centre of the ‘back-and-forth’ between the major parties. ​

Potential voters have been highly emotive during this year’s election; voters are apparently “concerned,” say the BBC, “angry” from The Guardian, or “fearful,” according to the Daily Mail. But when asked directly, the top emotion people used to describe themselves was indifference. Fuelling this wall of apathy, only 2 in 10 think their vote actually matters, while 50% of all voters don’t feel like their opinions are listened to. This is supplemented by our quarterly tracking data, which shows confidence in politics is at its joint lowest level since we began tracking. ​

With indifference towards this election so high, it is unsurprising that people are already showing signs of disengagement and ‘switching off’ from the election media coverage. Traditional media has particularly suffered, with the leadership debate experiencing a decline in viewing. BARB data shows that 9.4 million watched the leaders' debate in 2010, while only 4.8 million watched in 2024. This decline can be attributed to voter fatigue, as even accounting for the fact that Brits’ media habits have become increasingly fragmented over the last 14 years, important national occasions tend to see a significant uplift in linear TV viewership. ​

Looking at other forms of election content, we see a different side to the election campaign, one tinged with memes, humour, escapism, and genuine enjoyment. Social media engagement has not suffered from election campaign clutter for this reason, with only 5% of Brits admitting that they are actively avoiding social media because of political noise. Whilst watching the news can be tiring according to the7stars’ qualitative panel ‘The Street,’ those who engage with politics on social media are twice as likely to be enjoying the election campaign compared to the rest of the population. the7stars' proprietary thought leadership ‘Cultural Codes 2024,’ which examines macro themes impacting youth culture, also shows that 7 in 10 of Gen Z create and share memes with others, and half say their political and ethical views form a major part of their social media presence. Therefore, it has not been surprising to see both social media trends and politics combine. ​

Despite the first change in government in 14 years, there is significant work needed to overturn the desperately low opinion about the state of UK politics. Given this, we are seeing Brits discuss the election in creative ways and as a form of escapism on social media - highlighting the complex, messy relationship that the UK has with domestic politics.