Are young voters behind the NDP surge in Quebec?

New poll data shows young voters aren’t any more likely to vote for Layton. It’s everyone else who is.

by Josh Dehaas

The NDP is surging in Quebec and many point to the party’s popularity among young voters as the reason why. Jack Layton’s progressive message, the logic goes, makes him stand out as a legitimate alternative to Gilles Duceppe among left-leaning voters.

But here’s a problem with that storyline: data from the Historica-Dominion Institute’s poll of young voters suggests there isn’t an NDP surge among Quebec youth at all. Its 2011 Inter-generational Study shows young Quebecers are no more likely to vote NDP now than they were in 2008. Back then, the party captured a mere 12 per cent of the vote in Quebec.

The Historica-Dominion survey gathered the opinions of 831 youth aged 18 to 24, including 189 from Quebec. The NDP was the most popular party among young voters in Quebec, capturing 27 per cent support, while the Liberals got 23 per cent, the Bloc Québécois got 21 per cent, and the Conservatives came last with 8 per cent.  (For more results from the study, including a look at which issues matter to young voters, read the next issue of Maclean’s.) Those figures are virtually unchanged from the Institute’s 2008 Youth Election Study, which found 27 per cent of young Quebecers leaning toward the NDP, another 27 per cent supporting the Bloc, 20 per cent behind the Liberals, and 7 per cent leaning Tory.

The youth numbers also mirror last week’s EKOS and CROP polls, give or take a few points. “That seems to indicate the rest of the population is catching up to the youth in considering the NDP rather than a youth surge,” says Allison Harell, a political scientist at the University of Quebec at Montreal. That may be good news for Jack Layton. If his support is more broadly distributed across age groups, she adds, it may translate into more votes on election day. Historically, only about a third of Canadian youth end up voting, compared to nearly two-thirds of the electorate overall.

The big question is whether the current NDP supporters—young or not—will change their minds before election day. Houda Souissi, a 21-year-old labour law student at the University of Montreal has already switched back to Duceppe after a brief dalliance with Layton. After scrutinizing the NDP record, she worries an NDP government could take away provincial powers. She’s also turned-off by Layton’s stance on the long gun registry. Most importantly, she’s wary of inexperienced MPs. “I don’t want to say they’re nobodies,” she says. “But outside of Outremont, we don’t really know who the NDP candidates are.”

Souissi’s worries may be moot come May 3. If the NDP’s surge in the polls translates into actual votes, the party’s Quebec candidates could be well on their way to becoming decidedly mainstream among voters of all ages.




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Are young voters behind the NDP surge in Quebec?

  1. Well no matter what you say. I think young & older want ABC.

    • Except the give or take 40 percent of people who will be voting for the CPC,

      • 40 percent of voters. We urban elitists are notoriously lazier about actually getting to the polling stations than the more personally disciplined (and more rural) conservative base.

  2. Why would any Canadian in their left mind vote NDP?!…

    A party who has forced MEDICARE on every CDN?, only people who can pay out of their own pockets wile bleeding to death in a ditch should be able to get medical treatment or too bad!…

    A party whose founder Tommy Douglas was voted the GREATEST CANADIAN in the history of our country!, who does he think he is?!…

    A party who cares about the people?!?!, forget the people!, what about the oil companies, banks & big corporations?!, their only making millions in profits!, crap I'm out of bread & water again…

    A leader who thinks the credit card companies are charging us to much interest?!, who cares if Canadians are drowning themselves in dept!, keep the government out of the billionaires business!…

    I mean geeze baaa! The other parties & media etc keep telling me not to vote NDP baaa! they say the SKY WILL FALL! baaa! you'd be crazy baaa! to think for yourself! baaa! you know you can TRUST what baaa! the other parties tell you to FEAR baaa!.

    Baaa!…

  3. If your not voting consider this. If you dont vote you wont be heard, if you PROTEST Vote you will be heard. Here's how to protest vote if you are unhappy.

    For provincial and municipal elections, you can return the ballot once it has been handed to you and decline to vote. Your ballot will be marked as such, and will be tallied as 'declined'.

  4. I personally believe the way the political leaders bully each other around during campaigns and debates is terrible! What are we teaching each other that bullying IS ok?

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