Canada Election 2011: Will youth vote play a role?

I tend to be hesitant, not dismissive, when it comes to signs the youth vote might actually materialize. Truth is, every election, we hear of some effort to "get out the vote", and rarely does it manifest to anything, to be honest. So, as this campaign began, and we heard the usual rumbling, I wasn’t prepared to believe something was truly afoot. However, I’m now more optimistic- events unfolding in such a way- that this election might provide a youth "surprise", and it’s something worth digesting.

A comprehensive EKOS poll done last year:

Pollsters know that youth don’t vote, relative to other subsets. When polls are fashioned, they try to represent turnout, they weight based on likelihood. This dynamic means that if youth do decide to vote above historical norms, they could well be the "X factor", warping the reliability of the assumptions. I know pollsters look for "likely" voters, but I also think they weight beyond that, and this could skew, IF youth actually show up.

Two more examples today, that things seem different this time. Mercer was on Question Period, and was downright GIDDY at the way in which the vote mob phenomenon is sweeping this country. Later, a CBC panel, wherein guests spoke about "unprecedented" youth engagement this campaign. More anecedotal evidence, that tends to feed a fascinating development. In addition, this issue of 700 students showing up to vote, supports increased engagement. The fact the Conservatives tried to disenfranchise, I see as a catalyst to bring more young people to the polls.

Nothing is assured, but the signs are concrete enough to actually posit some optimism. What excites me- and this may explain Conservative reaction- if the youth come out, it works for both the Liberals and NDP. With so many close ridings, rather than a vote split, a stronger youth presence would ENHANCE both parties, relative to the Conservatives. In other words, it could help some Liberals get elected, as WELL as the NDP, all at the expense of the Conservatives. One additional point, although all these intiatives are entirely NON PARTISAN, because of kicking people out, going to Elections Canada, etc, I get the distinct impression it is the NON Conservative youth vote MOST motivated.

I won’t be surprised if the youth vote fails to materialize, once again this election. But, I also won’t be shocked if we see a few perplexed faces come election night, as a subset challenges accepted norms and translated results. Something to watch for….

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