Political Roundup: Is a ‘youthquake’ looming, or not?

Political Roundup: Is a ‘youthquake’ looming, or not?

Age dynamics are set to have a crucial impact on this year’s election. In particular, there is evidence of very strong alignment between young voters and Labour, and between older voters and National. It seems that age issues, and generational politics have become politicised along partisan lines to a highly unusual degree. Youth, who have been somewhat absent from recent elections, appear to be re-awakening. But it’s not clear yet whether this will produce any sort of “youthquake”.

Of course, forecasts and speculations about a possible youthquake have been in motion for a many months, especially following the surge of young people voting in the UK, and the fact that they appear to have voted overwhelmingly for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

I had previously dismissed the possibility of that happening here – writing well before this year’s election started to get interesting, back in the days before Jacindamania – suggesting this election will be more like a “youth yawn” – see my earlier column, Youthquake unlikely to shakeup NZ politics.

But since then the election race has got colourful and close. Suddenly signs have appeared of a renewed political interest amongst younger potential voters. And in the last fortnight, there’s been great excitement – especially on the political left – about the potential for a youth surge to help sweep Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party into power. But, ultimately it will depend on whether younger voters actually turn out to vote.

Evidence of a youthquake coming

The strongest evidence of a powerful age dynamic coming into the election campaign came out of the most recent 1News Colmar Brunton opinion poll for, which showed that “67 per cent of 18-34 are voting or intending to vote Labour” – see: ‘Something’s clearly going on here in terms of this idea of a youth quake’ – Corin Dann on huge new Colmar Brunton poll.

Labour’s incredibly success with youth is also shown in two other surveys that have just come out. Survey firm SSI was commissioned to run a poll for Newsroom, which also showed that 65 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds intended to vote Labour, with only 14 percent of this group favouring National – see Tim Murphy’s Labour opens gap with women, young.

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