Historic Election Results Leave Youth Dissatisfied but more Interested in Politics

May 10, 2011

Historic Election Results Leave Youth Dissatisfied but more Interested in Politics

May 10, 2011—Toronto—One week after the election upset, a new survey commissioned by The Historica-Dominion Institute investigates voting and views of the much-hyped youth demographic.


The online survey of more than 800 youth, conducted by Innovative Research Group May 3-8, asked respondents 30 questions, including views on party leaders, attack ads, twitter, top issues and election results. The poll is the second part of the Institute’s 2011 Youth Election Study, which includes tracking from 2008 and 2006 youth election polls.


The survey found that with the exception of Alberta, the NDP beat out other parties for the youth vote (24% said they would vote for NDP pre-election, 44% said they did) and was most likely to speak to youth issues (46%) as compared to CPC (23%) and Liberals (16%). Harper’s focus on the economy won points with young voters (who report it as a top issue) but attack ads were seen unfavourably while disrespect for democracy had only a minor impact on image. Ignatieff was punished for perceived poor leadership and personality while Layton was most liked for his platform, personality and the NDP “surge” story.


“It’s essential that we understand how youth participated in this historic election,” says Jeremy Diamond, Director of Development and Programming at The Historica-Dominion Institute. “If we better understand their views and values as a particular yet diverse group, we are more likely to be able to reach them and encourage them to have their voices heard.”


Despite overwhelming dissatisfaction with election results among youth (net -24%)—ironically lowest in Quebec at net -48%—a majority believe getting involved in politics is a great way to make a difference (58%) and report being more interested in politics post-election (+53% net interest, highest in Prairies and Quebec), suggesting that the watershed election may have a lasting effect on youth engagement.


Other key findings include:

  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they don’t have, nor are they likely to sign up for, a Twitter account following election. Only small percentage found it useful to keeping updated on campaign and only 17% reporting having an account prior to the election.
  • Alberta excepted, impression of Conservative negative among youth (-21% net favourable)
  • Impression of NDP positive among youth across Canada, particularly in Quebec (overall +46% net favourable)
  • Election outcome leaves youth less confident with the way democracy works in Canada (-22% net confidence, highest in Quebec and Atlantic)
  • Voters and Francophones consider themselves more persuasive than others when debating public issues
  • Impression of the Bloc negative among Quebec youth (-18% net favourable) due to party attacks and relevance.


The Historica-Dominion Institute is the largest charitable organization dedicated to Canadian history, identity and citizenship. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.


Sponsors of the Democracy Project include RBC Foundation and the Aurea Foundation.


For a summary of results, please click here


For full results, please click here




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