Sophia Parker is the Director of Policy and Research at the Resolution Foundation.
The Conservative campaign started with a promise to champion ordinary people’s concerns - David Cameron’s ‘Great Ignored’ - and it’s clear to see why. Parties from the centre-right, on both sides of the Atlantic, have often relied on the so-called ‘blue collar vote’ to build majorities and bearing in mind the Tories’ struggle to break through the magic 40% barrier in the polls, it is significant that Resolution Foundation data reveals some low hanging fruit for the Tories.
However, Labour’s recent renaissance has been credited to doubts about the Tories’ handling of likely spending cuts and their true understanding of what life is like for ‘ordinary folk’. If they can meld traditional Tory values with policies that protect this group then there could be a significant boost to Tory support.
A third of the electorate are ‘low earners’: in other words, they are economically independent, but coping on below median income. The Resolution Foundation’s latest audit shows that there are 9.4 million working-age low earners, bringing in an average household wage of £15,800 a year.
Some might argue that this group represents traditional Labour voters. But while low earners are still less likely to vote Tory than better-off households, our recent work shows that low earners are the most pessimistic about the future of any group. They have suffered most from the recession – much more than higher earners or those households living on benefits.
We're currently conducting monthly polling to monitor voting intentions of this group and what issues will determine where they put their cross on the ballot paper. This is showing three interesting developments.