A quarter of young voters will be strongly influenced by election ads, suggests YouGov poll

Polling Booths on Election Day

Polling Booths on Election Day

Around 20% of voters say political advertising will be highly influential in their final voting decision in the upcoming Federal elections, with younger people more open to the messaging.

With the election predicted to be close run, new research conducted by YouGov for Mumbrella has revealed that 45% of voters are still undecided, with 41% of people saying election ads will be moderately or very influential on their final decision at the polling booths.

Asked to mark on a scale between one and 10 how influential party campaign advertising will be on their voting decision 24% of people responded with one – not influential at all – while just 7% responded with a 10 – very influential.

However 57% of people scored five or above, suggesting they are open to some form of marketing influence in their political decision making.

The research also suggests parties will need to manage their ad targeting carefully across demographics and geographies to find those swing voters.

Younger people are much more likely to be open to some form of marketing influence, with almost 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying that party advertising ranks above five in influencing their voting decision. For 45 to 54-year-olds that drops to 46% and for people 55 plus it is 44%.

Across all demographics, one in five rated party campaign advertising as an eight or higher on the influence scale, but this number increased to one in four amongst 18 to 44-year-olds.

Adam Ferrier, global chief strategy officer and partner at Cummins & Partners, said he is unsurprised by the 40% that claim not to be influenced by ads, putting it down to the fact “rational, intelligent people like to think they are unaffected by advertising”.

But he insists that advertising does work, and is most effective on swing voters.

Steve Allen, head of Fusion Strategy, said that older voters had simply seen the promises of election ads too many times.

“It’s not very surprising that the people most resistant to political advertising are older folk, and I think it’s because they are more jaded,” Allen said.

“Whereas younger people are more open. But I think the most dramatic thing I saw was how many people said they were undecided.”

Swing voters are also quite evenly spread by geography with 27% of voters in Tasmania, Victoria, the Northern Territory, Adelaide and in Queensland rating election advertising’s influence on their decision making an eight or higher, and 23% for NSW and the ACT.

The west seems the most skeptical of electioneering, with just 18% of people in WA rating it 8 or higher, suggesting a tougher sell for the spinners there.

Across all demographics, among the least important issues were immigration, the environment and national security.

Justice PartyAccording to Ferrier, similarities in policy and advertising between the two major parties presents an opportunity for independent parties to differentiate themselves, with Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party campaign an example of a political brand trading on difference and the celebrity status of its leader.

“When people are undecided, they tend to go with the brand that is more prevalent in their mind and that applies to elections as well – they will decide based on what they remember more of,” he said.

Paul Gardner, executive director of, said that marketing in the election is all about the two main party leaders, Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberals and Bill Shorten for Labor.

“For the Liberals, it’s all about Turnbull and his leadership – he is at the front of the campaign,” Gardner said.

“Labor seem to be pushing a similar party line. If you look at the ALP it’s all about Bill’s plan.”

In terms of policy debate, public health ranked #1 among respondents as the issue most relevant to them, closely followed by employment. Education was found to be particularly relevant among 18 to 24-year-olds, while taxation was of greater relevance to one-in-five respondents aged 35 to 44.


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