The Canadian Press reports that pollster Nick Nanos and former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page are working on a project to increase youth turnout in the next election. Nanos has gone back and looked at the data he gathered during the last election. He's reached some startling conclusions:
Just over 60 per cent of eligible voters actually cast ballots in 2011. Among those under 30, fewer than 40 per cent bothered to vote.
Working with Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, on a project aimed at engaging youth in the political process, Nanos has mined data from his daily polling during the 2011 campaign as well as research done for the Institute for Research on Public Policy to answer the question: What if 60 per cent of young people had voted?
His answer: Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives likely wouldn't have won a majority.
But, besides affecting the outcome, Nanos believes that young voters would have influenced the debate:
More importantly, he says the political debate would have been more hopeful and would have revolved around a broader range of issues if young people had been more engaged in the process.
"What we find is that their concerns are much more diverse than older Canadians who are fixated on jobs and health care," Nanos said in an interview. "So if you're a younger Canadian, you're twice as likely to say that the environment is a top national issue of concern. You're twice as likely to say that education is a top national issue of concern."
His analysis also suggests older Canadians "are very cynical, they have less confidence in finding solutions" whereas younger people "are actually much more hopeful, have a higher level of confidence in finding solutions."
The Harperites must be looking at the same data. That's why they want to shut down Elections Canada's efforts to encourage voting.
The kids scare the Conservatives -- because they know they could be game changers.