What if Canadian youth actually voted?

The ever-informative Éric Grenier of threehundredeight.com has a very interesting article up today for the Globe and Mail. Grenier analyzed youth voting tendencies in Canada, and came up with this breakdown of how the House of Commons might look if it were up to Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24.

It’s not overly surprising that the Tories would be, as Grenier writes, “decimated,” as in the past youth often tend to be more left-leaning. What is telling, in some ways, is just how important the youth demographic is to the Liberals, and how unimportant it probably is to the Conservatives - it’s clearly not their target audience.

This is good news and bad for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. First, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a popular leader, just that his party’s ideology is tempting - which isn’t exactly something to be wholly dismissed, either.

Second, it means that his erudite, professorial personality probably plays a lot better with those Canadians who have either just left high school or are in university, and are ok with it/used to it. Chances are the party knows this, which is why Ignatieff has made so many university appearances. Unfortunately, that personality type can also be an easy target, and it has been - both for Ignatieff (the visiting Harvard elite tag that he has yet to shake) and his predecessor, Stéphane Dion.

Finally, on a mostly positive note for the Liberals, they have a strong showing in both British Columbia and Ontario. Ontario is shaping up to be very fertile battle ground should the general polls remain similar when the next election is called. Same goes for B.C., where the Tories won back three of the four ridings in 2008 that Paul Martin and Jack Layton had won since 2004.

Speaking of the NDP, in this scenario, they’d take three seats in Alberta.

Also interesting is the Bloc Québécois absolute domination in Quebec, garnering 39.2 per cent of the vote there. Grenier writes:

They would face little opposition in the province, with the Liberals at 19.4 per cent, the Greens at 16.3 per cent and the Conservatives well behind with only 11 per cent support. It would be enough, however, for the Tories to hold on to Maxime Bernier’s seat in the Beauce.

What does this mean for Québec? It’s interesting that the Bloc has such popularity with Quebec’s youth, given that the party has fallen overall by 1.7 per cent since July, losing ground to the Liberals. So, this youth percentage stands in contrast to that. I’m not sure how much we can really derive from it, but it’s something to note.

Anyway, youth polls are always highly speculative and, given that in 2008, only 37 per cent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 actually voted, whatever good news some of the parties might take from this is mildly negated. It’s often a Herculean task to get youth to the polls, but it could certainly pay off for the opposition parties. It might be time to re-align themselves a bit. Especially since, as Grenier writes, “Based solely on the support of Canada’s most elderly citizens, the Conservative Party would be swept to a huge majority with 192 seats and 44 per cent of the vote.”

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