Justin Trudeau did Q and A sessions recently at the University of British Columbia and at McGill. He knows that there are lots of potential votes on campus. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
Pollster Angus Reid’s latest survey on the matter gives the Liberals 34 per cent of voters in the 18-34 age category, compared to 29 per cent for the New Democrats and just 22 per cent for the Conservatives. Among over-55 voters, the Conservatives lead the Liberals 38 to 32 per cent, with the NDP at 22.Ipsos Reid has the Liberals seven points ahead of the Conservatives among 18-34-year-olds, but the Conservatives lead by four points among voters over 55. Nanos Research’s “Party Power Index,” which blends voting intentions and prime ministerial preferences, shows the Liberals ahead among 18-to-29-year-olds but trailing among those over 60.
It's not easy to get the young to the polls -- and that fact has worked in Stephen Harper's favour. But there is another reason Harper doesn't make his pitch to university students:
Liberal supporters have much more formal education than Conservative supporters. Put crudely, the more formal education a voter has, the more likely he or (especially) she will be to vote Liberal.
For example, the latest Ipsos Reid poll has the Liberals leading the Conservatives by 41 to 29 per cent among those with a university education, but trailing 36 to 23 per cent among those with less than a high-school diploma. In the Probe Research survey, Liberals led by 10 points (45 to 35 per cent) among those who had attended university, but trailed by a whopping 37 points (57 to 22 per cent) among those who did not finish high school. Other polls show the same pattern.Those with university education, especially professional school training, tend to be among the business and intellectual leaders in any society. By income, status and responsibility – and ability to be heard publicly – they are society’s “elites.”Attacking those “elites” is a staple of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Polling numbers show why: Fewer of these “elites” favour the Conservatives than the Liberals. Attacking “elites” holds few risks and offers an appeal to the Conservative base, which skews much older and has less formal education. The resulting political divide is a conflict more of culture than of class.
Harper knows who his enemies are. Trudeau's challenge will be to get Harper's enemies -- and the young are among them -- to the polls.