Election `97: Cosy couples who may hold sway

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The Independent Online
They are the stuff that advertising and marketing men's dreams are made of. And now it seems they will be deciding who governs Britain for the next five years.

The most crucial marginal constituencies will be decided on Thursday by the nation's youngest voters, according to a new survey. The study, based on the 16 most marginal seats, claims to be the first into the make- up of the voters who would hold the balance of power.

And, warns the marketing firm Claritas, aspiring MPs in these constituencies would ignore six key groups at their peril: Terraced Start-ups, Soaps and Satellites, Backyard Gossips, Cosy Couples, New Beginnings, and Upward Bound.

The most prevalent are the Terraced Start-ups - white-collar workers living in their first homes as owner-occupiers, who spend their income on foreign travel, pubs, car-maintenance, and exercise. The majority are impressed by Tony Blair and are likely to vote for Labour.

Tory hopes lie with the Soaps and Satellites .They tend to get what news and entertainment they want from television. They live in the suburbs, and cultural activities include computer games and watching videos.

The Upward Bounds - wealthy young professionals - and the Backyard Gossips - families living in terraced homes - are almost equally split between Labour and the Conservatives.

The Cosy Couples - those in double-income households, and the New Beginnings - people on the first rung of the career ladder, who are renting while waiting to buy their first homes - are the least represented.

They may vote for the Liberal Democrats, or fringe parties, but the majority appear to be politically inactive, and thus an untapped pool of voters.

Young voters in the key marginals

Group % in marginals % in GB

(cumulative) (cumulative)

Terraced start-ups 2.20 1.05

Soaps and satellites 4.89 2.43

Cosy couples 6.32 3.21

New beginnings 8.88 4.61

Upward bound 9.08 4.73

Backyard gossip 10.83 5.86