Students Might Just Make Difference in This Election
“Ratings monitor BBM Canada said that 3.85 million viewers watched the debate Tuesday night, an increase of 26 per cent compared with 2008’s showdown. The number jumped to 10.6 million viewers once those who only watched a portion of the debate were included.”
The question is who are these viewers? Are they the already entrenched partisans of each party combined with the usual political junkies, pundits, and journalists — the usual suspects — or are they that cabal in combination with the undecided and the uncommitted? It would be intriguing to think the latter, and the 10.6 figure for those who only watched a portion does indeed suggests a fairly substantial level of interest if not engagement. If we take these numbers, then, as a postive trend towards engagement and thus, as a result, a potentially larger voter turnout and link them to the large increase in Twitter traffic on the election and to the Rick Mercer energized votemob initiative expanding every day, we may indeed have a radically different election than 2008. The result may surprise us.
The second question, then, is who gains from this increased matrix of activity if it’s real? We can’t be absolutely certain it’s Harper, who is obviously counting primarily, as many have pointed out, on his base, targeted ridings, and of course voter apathy, indifference, or ignorance to get him his coveted majority, though at least some of the undecided will swing his way. But countering that movement is the increasing number of whack the Harperites websites and videos, the extremely pumped Green supporters since Elzabeth May’s exclusion from the debates, whose numbers are also expanding, and, most significant, the increasing participation in studentvote-votemob movement, which I strongly suspect is not travelling in the direction of the Harperites.
Driven by the leadnow.ca intiative, this group refuses to lie down and roll over even after Elections Canada, pressured by the Harperites — a blatant Rove-like voter suppression tactic — has shut down campus voting. Leadnow.ca has started a petition to have campus voting reestablshed, and sudents all across Canada have said if they can’t vote on campus, they will vote in advanced polls and in their home riding. Apathyisboring has already heard from 60,000 students pledging to vote.
But the last question remains the very first one everyone asked: has either debate make a difference, changed anything, or were they just a little stop on the way? The polls suggest the latter, but, remember, students, whose communciation matrix is social media and cell phones, are not a significant part of the polling sample if at all. We may indeed be having a different election, and on May 2, the results may just turn out to be much more than simply intriguing.