Monday, July 25, 2016

Half a million extra Millennials voted in 2015, what will they do in 2017?

Close to an 500,000 extra people voted in BC voted in the 2015 federal election, this is the most dramatic rise in voter turnout that we have seen in BC.  Almost all these people were Millennials and they overwhelmingly voted for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.  What will they do in the 2017 BC election?

Total vote in BC Federal and Provincial elections from 1991 to 2015
Once someone has voted once the chances of them voting again is likely higher than otherwise.    The fact they voted in the 2015 federal election means they are going to open to voting in the BC election but how will they vote?

Most of these people voted for the federal Liberals and did not choose the NDP, Greens or Conservatives.   This is important to keep in mind because if the primary goal was to get rid of Conservatives, in almost all cases in BC the voters should have supported New Democrat candidates.   Something else was going on to get all these Millennials to vote.   What drove these people to vote matters a lot when considering how they may act in 2017.

There are four options possible in the 2017 election:
1) Some are likely to vote to Liberal because the name is the same and the policies are similar
2) Some are likely to vote Green because it is something different
3) Some are likely to vote NDP because they have to get Christy Clark out.
4) Some will not vote

Voting Liberal
As much as people on the left want to say Christy Clark and the BC Liberals are some sort of far right Harperesque type of political party this is simply not the case.   The policies of the BC Liberals are broadly the same as the federal party.   If the federal policies are acceptable so then should the BC Liberal ones.  The problem the BC Liberals have is that there is no serious party to the right of them.

The parties share a common brand name, this does matter.  Some people will vote for the BC Liberals because they voted for the federal Liberals.

When it comes to age of the leader, Trudeau and Clark are only six years apart in age.   The difference is that Trudeau has a young rock star image and Clark does not.

Trudeau was not government whereas the BC Liberals have been in power since 2001.   Being a long term government is not likely to work in the BC Liberals favour.

What is comes down to is can the BC Liberals market themselves to Millennials?   

My estimate is that 100,000 to 200,000 will for the BC Liberals

Voting Green
The BC Greens are working hard to attract the people that voted Liberal in 2015 to vote Green provincially.  The BC Greens could sell the Millennials on the party being something different

Much depends on how effective the Greens are getting their message out and convincing people beyond Vancouver Island that the party is a serious contender elsewhere.    I am not convinced this will happen.

My estimate is 50,000 to 150,000 will vote Green

Voting NDP
In BC the only logical choice to defeat the existing Liberal government is the NDP.   If there is a get rid of Clark movement the NDP should benefit.

Most of the people that voted NDP provincially in 2005, 2009 and 2013 also voted for the NDP federally in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2013.     There is no strong correlation in the last 15 years of people voting Liberal federally and NDP provincially.   

I have trouble seeing the NDP getting a lot of Millennial support because the core values of many  Millennials do not fit well with the old school values of the NDP.   Millennials seem to be somewhat more libertarian at heart and generally do not expect the government to be an active beneficial part of their life.  The NDP is not resonating with Millennials federally or provincially.

My estimate is that the NDP will get 50,000 to 100,000 Millennial votes.

Not voting
Trudeau could be a one off boost to voter numbers and they will not vote in 2017

My estimate is that 150,000 to 250,000 will not vote

Impact on the Election
What is the upshot of all this?   My best estimate is that the Millennials will make it harder for the NDP to win the election but it is all very much unclear.  

If a party can find a message that resonates with the Millennials it becomes possible for the BC Liberals or the NDP to comfortably win the election.  For the Greens, even if they manage to bring in almost all the new votes, the problem is that these votes are too evenly distributed across BC.   Even with 600,000 votes the Greens could end up only winning 4 to 10 seats.

The reality is that the Millennials are a factor in this election and at this time no one has a clear strategy to get their vote.

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