Skip to content

Journal Article

‘It’s The Sun wot won it’: evidence of media influence on political attitudes and voting from a UK quasi-natural experiment


Publication date

Mar 2016


Do print media significantly impact political attitudes and party identification? To examine this question, we draw on a rare quasi-natural experiment that occurred when The Sun, a right-leaning UK tabloid, shifted its support to the Labour party in 1997 and back to the Conservative party in 2010. We compared changes in party identification and political attitudes among Sun readers with non-readers and other newspaper readerships. We find that The Sun’s endorsements were associated with a significant increase in readers’ support for Labour in 1997, approximately 525,000 votes, and its switch back was associated with about 550,000 extra votes for the Conservatives in 2010. Although we observed changes in readers’ party preference, there was no effect on underlying political preferences. The magnitude of these changes, about 2% of the popular vote, would have been unable to alter the outcome of the 1997 General Election, but may have affected the 2010 Election.

Published in

Social Science Research

Volume and page numbers

56 , 44 -57





Politics, Media, Elections. Electoral Behaviour, Sociology, and Social Psychology


University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to University of Essex registered users* -


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest