I hate to admit this but John Ivison in his piece in The Post on Saturday could have a point: “There is anger in the herbivore community about Stephen Harper’s failings — some of it is even justified. But the evidence on the doorsteps suggests it does not extend beyond the politically engaged into the suburbs, where people have to get up in the morning.” Two questions: does the apparently large turnout on Friday at the advance polls suggest a newly engaged voter constituency or was that the already committed who showed up? Will the votemob constituency have any real voting power now that the University year is coming to an end?
The answer to the first question is we simply don’t know whether these are newly engaged voters or what their voter preference might be, but if they are they could potentially make a difference for any of the parties. As for university students. there are 3 million elegible votes under 25, and pollling suggests that their voting preferences would probalby favour the Liberals, NDP, or Greens over the Harperites. But did they vote on Friday in their campus ridings, and if not, will they vote today? If they do vote over this holiday weekend on campus, what percentage of support would there be for each of the three favoured parties, and how split would that vote be? And will their votes make a difference?
There does not appear to be much room for optimism. Now that through the not so subtle voter-supression tatics of the Harperites to shut down special voting polls on university campuses has occurred, students would have had to remain on campus this holiday weekend to vote in their university riding in the advance polls, but most univerisites are in the process of wrapping up the semester, and preliminary estimates of students who did remain are that one-third of the student body have remained on campus. How many of those plan on voting, and even if all did so, how much of a difference is there in effect between one-third and a full student body? For those who did not remain on campus and still wished to vote, their only option is to vote in their home riding today or on May 2 where their vote, because unconcentrated and spread as it would be across many ridings, would count for much less.
It remains to seen how all this plays out. but one thing is certain: the shutting down of the special voting stations on campus by elections Canada in complicity with the Harperites might turn out to be far more significan than first thought.
Note: This is an update to my earlie entry Stuents Just might Make a Difference