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The Liberal Party of Canada recently floated the idea lowering the voting age from 18 to 16. Canada's conservative circles have pushed back hard against the idea; one Twitter poll I can't find put opposition at over 90%. The detractors' basic argument was this:

Children and teenagers live in an environment where everything is provided for them and their parents' command is the final word. Lacking experience of the real world and seeing their environment as the only/best one, they will vote for economically socialist and big-government/authoritarian policies that the left supports.

My question is: has there been research done on the political alignment of the people in this age group, that could validate or contradict the above argument?

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    Any party that polls strongly above its rivals in that age group would gain advantage from this rule change. There are lots of age-slice polls, so it's not like the info is a big secret. Liberals trend better with younger folk. So while the argument made by the Conservatives is fishy, so is the Liberals' fervor in granting teens the right to vote. Asking just one side of this BS - the Conservatives' and not mentioning the even bigger side of the BS - the Liberals' reasons for pushing this change at this time? -1 Commented Jun 5 at 21:59
  • "has there been research done" Exactly what I also asked myself when reading the question. "I would downvote you in retaliation if I could." This is bad style. Better would be to learn and try better next time. Present more own research, ask the questions that appear when the easy questions are answered. Something like: Why isn't the voting age 16 years instead of 18? Or why do older people vote so conservative and younger so progressive? Once we know that they do, tons of questions come up. Commented Jun 5 at 22:22
  • in a fair and non-partisan fashion, and you have an answer, and yet you downvote me? I would downvote you in retaliation if I could That Q is by no means non-partisan, and I say this as someone who votes Liberals a lot more than I vote Conservatives. You didn't even bother to link to an actual Conservative pundit making the "socialists" claim, you paraphrased it. And, if you were aware of why the Liberals are pushing this dumb idea, you certainly kept it to yourself in the Q itself, preferring to put up a nice comfy strawman argument (which I am sure some Conservatives resort to). Commented Jun 5 at 23:04
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    Are you implying with your vague poll ref that 90% of the country is opposed or 90% of Conservatives? This seems like a low-hanging fruit Q to me that you already know the answer to if you looked at some polls already. And yeah, such disputes arise almost everywhere in the world, on exactly the same lines. Almost no party anywhere agrees to extend the voting franchise unless they benefit in some way. Commented Jun 6 at 3:46
  • And yes, that can still be sold as legit, see e.g. theguardian.com/politics/article/2024/may/25/… Commented Jun 6 at 3:57

2 Answers 2

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has there been research done on the political alignment of the people in this age group, that could validate or contradict the above argument?

Yes. The argument is that:

they will vote for economically socialist and big-government/authoritarian policies that the left supports.

This is basically true, as shown below. It would help the NDP and would hurt the Tories.

But, the reasons suggested for their political views is speculative at best and are not necessarily correct. The theory given is not a widely accepted hypothesis about why people tend to favor one political party over another. Indeed, for the most part, young people tend to follow the lead of their parents, all other things being equal:

the most common and influential source of election information among young people was their families. In addition to sharing news and political information, families can include their children in political discussions, promote engagement, and teach and model voting habits. The causal link can go both ways: research has demonstrated that ideologies and habits of political engagement can be transferred to parents from their children as well.

According to the source at the same link, when children do deviate in partisan affiliation from their parents, this most often happens as a result of leaving home and attending college, something that voters aged 16-17 have generally not done.

Canadians aged 16-17 are less likely to identify with a political party than any older age group:

The youngest Canadians identify less with political parties compared with older groups of Canadians, which could be partly related to their more limited experience with politics. While close to 80% of Canadians aged 35 years or older report identifying with a federal political party, less than 70% of those aged 18–22 and less than 60% of those aged 16–17 say they identify with a federal political party. Among those reporting a partisan identity, those aged 16–17 report weaker partisan attachment compared with the three other age groups.

This said, the political party leanings of younger voters are different from those of older voters in Canada and it is reasonably to expect that voters aged 16-17 would follow these trends:

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The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, in particular, which leans left, has much stronger support among young people than among Canadians as a whole, while the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), which unsurprisingly leans right politically, has the weakest support among younger voters.

Support for four other major political parties in Canada, and for other minor political parties, is less clearly related to a voter's age.

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Young voters are consistently more liberal than the general electorate is on a range of issues, according to a 538 analysis. We took a look at data from the Cooperative Election Study, a Harvard University survey of at least 60,000 Americans taken before the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms, and found notable differences between younger voters and the general electorate on key issues like the environment, abortion and immigration. That could make a big difference in the general election — that is, if young voters actually show up to vote.

https://abcnews.go.com/538/voters-30-trending-left-general-electorate/story?id=104181253

Young voters tend to vote more liberal and thus it would advantage left-leaning political parties.

https://progressivepost.eu/wp-content/uploads/Once-they-become-engaged-with-politics-young-people-are-more-demanding-than-their-elders-Interview-with-Anne-Muxel-by-Alain-Bloe%CC%88dt.pdf

Yes, although young people are still more left-leaning than right-wing, there has been a shift away from the Left compared with the 1960s to 1980s. It must be said that more and more young people reject the premise of the right-left divide. Young people today feel detached from the political system, and believe that the real questions should be analysed differently. For example, the European question is no longer a matter of left and right wing politics.

However, it has been found that this true in this current day and age to a lesser extent than it used to be.

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