Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The lesson for young voters from Brexit isn't to blame the old: it's for young people to vote

Surveys of how people voted and how they turned out (yes, I know, none of us trust the opinion polls to predict anything at the moment, but they are all we have to go on in trying to understand what happened) show two trends by age.

1) The older people are, the more likely they are to vote, with turnout increasing in each age group.

2) Up to about the age of 80, the older people are the more likely they were to vote Leave. although there is some evidence that the very oldest voters - those like Field Marshall Lord Bramall who is one of the last survivors of the D-Day landings - who remember WWII, come into two categories: those who have never forgiven the Germans, or those who completely buy into one of the original founding aims of the EU, to make another war between the nations of Europe unthinkable.

Not having lived through what they did, it is not my place to make a judgement on either group, but there appear to be enough of them in the latter category that the very oldest voters were more likely to vote Remain than the "Baby Boomers."

There has been some angst in the papers and on social media from angry Remain supporters, particularly younger ones, about younger people having had their futures wrecked by older voters,

But this is not just rude and unhelpful, but, even if you agree with the Remain view of what would have been the right decision, still completely misses the point.

Here is the interesting thing. If Lord Ashcroft's survey is correct, although voters over 65 were more likely to vote Leave than younger voters, the turnout among the oldest voters was so much higher than that among voters aged 18-24 that the proportion of all persons over 65 registered to vote who did turn out and voted Remain was higher than the proportion of all 18-24 year olds registered to vote who did turn out and voted Remain.

So young voters who are cross about Brexit have really have no right whatsoever to blame old voters for the result. If you pick an 18-24 year old and a person over 65 from the electorate at random, the older person is more likely to have actually voted Remain than the young voter.

(Of course, the older person is also vastly more likely to be a Leave voter, and the young person is much more likely to be a non-voter.)

If voters under thirty had been as likely to vote as those over 65, and voted in the same proportions as their contemporaries, Britain would not be leaving the EU.

There is a good article by Sean O'Meara answering the attacks on older people about the Brexit result and you can read it here.

And the lesson for young voters:

"Don't get mad, next time there is an important poll make sure your generation turns out to vote!"

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