Enrolment data doesn't yet support youthquake

Change in enrolment numbers 2014 to 19 September 2017.png

Wishing something is happening doesn't make it so, such appears to be the case with claims that a youthquake is in progress. While youth enrolments might be increasing at greater numbers since writ day than they did in the 2014 election, the overall number of those aged 18 - 24 is well down, and there's only a small increase if you extend that up to those aged 39, on the overall numbers who were enrolled in the 2014 election.

What's more, the biggest increases in enrolments since 2014 aren't in the youth segment but in what I call the grey segment - those aged 55 and above. Even if you take likely voter turnout out of the equation, there's still a clear swing in the voting population towards grey voters.

Relative change.png

You can see that while there's promising signs in the 25 to 34 brackets, the only other growth has been the over 55 segments, meaning grey voters are poised to dominate the election, especially as they turnout in much greater numbers. When you take into account the turnout figures for each age group from 2014, and put that against the 2017 figures so far, you can see what I mean a lot more clearly.

Change in makeup of actual voters.png

Once again there's an overall swing towards grey voters, with their greater numbers and greater propensity to vote, meaning they'll have a bigger impact.

If a youthquake was happening it should be showing up in the enrolment data, with more young people enrolling to vote and thus lifting their overall share of the voting population. While there have been signs of that taking place over the past few days which I've written about the problem is that it might be too little, too late, to reverse the drift to older voters.

None of this is to say that a youthquake isn't possible, but it's not likely to happen due to surging youth enrolments, which means it's down to those who are enrolled to turnout and vote.

As much as I've written about the data not showing a youthquake, I do hope I'm proven wrong, because what matters most to the future of our civic institutions and democracy is that young people participate in our elections to ensure that our government is more representative of New Zealand as a whole, and that political parties are forced to adapt their policies to reflect that reality.