By Tony Samson
DEMOGRAPHICS show that in the 2015 census, the segment for age 0-14 was 35% of the over 100 million population in the country. If the age group is stretched to the segment 30 years and below, the number goes up to 70%. Those over 65 years old comprise only 5%. Some of them are candidates.
These statistics show that the country is quite young (median age is 23). The country is seen as being in the demographic “sweet spot” in terms of providing a substantial working age population for its economy and supporting a small percentage of retirees. It is an ideal population pyramid with a wide base comfortably supporting a narrow apex.
Election surveys traditionally follow the socioeconomic classifications based on income in its stratified random sampling, usually of 1,200 respondents. These are segmented by income classes from A (top 2%) to E (subsistence level) using such indicators like home ownership, appliances, residential areas, and family income. Surveys do not segment samples by age.
So, does it follow that the youth which is the biggest demographic block is largely unpolled and underrepresented in the respondent base?
For the electoral analyst, the question that comes to mind is simple — is there an undiscovered youth vote? So we again take a look at our favorite target market in our consumption economy, the millennial generally born after 1985.
Generation Y (born 1980-95) and part of Gen Z (1995-2010) are soaked in social media as “digital natives” with a natural affinity with gadgets, needing no manuals to uncover their features. (This button of “factory setting” throws everything away.) They are supposed to have a short attention span, six seconds (time’s up, swipe now). They are globalists interested in climate change, and cleaning the ocean (but not the plates after dinner). They may be even more informed about Brexit than the effect of TRAIN on inflation. They are self-assured and self-gratifying and they buy experiences like fine dining and travel rather than things (Grab rather than own a car). Okay, these are generalizations which probably arise from a digital culture that takes selfies in restaurants and posts the soup of the say in social media chats. It’s not true of all millennials. Some just resist arrest.
Still, this cohort is eligible to vote but are they politically aware? Sure, this group doesn’t go for rallies, marching with megaphones for press freedom and against the soft invasion of China. Are street rallies passé? They are instead a big part of what are called “netizens.” They post reactions to breaking relationships, perceived slurs on gender choices, and self-gratification videos.
Are millennials following this political race and now forming opinions on their eventual picks? Are they still undecided?
It’s not for a lack of effort that there is so little information or coverage on what the candidates stand for. The front runners in the survey have simply decided to skip the whole beauty contest staking positions on issues, ideas, and articulating national priorities. Why debate and be challenged on past sins or questioned on qualifications? Why squander a lead in the surveys? Isn’t it best to just do the paid rallies and preach to the converts? Maybe get some photo ops of endorsers raising hands?
So, if an intelligent decision is not possible without a televised discourse in the market of ideas, what’s a voter to do?
Maybe, there is no expectation anyway that voters actually decide with their minds. Name recall, popularity, false claims, and avoidance of conflict may be the key to getting elected. Global issues of trade wars between the two largest economies, the restoration of Notre Dame, and, yes, even the possibility of impeachment in another country get better media exposure, with opposing sides airing opinions.
As for those millennial issues on ecology and saving Mother Earth, isn’t there more common ground there for discussion and debate — what is your carbon footprint? If the world needs saving, it’s those with a stake in the future that need to get on board. But, who’s going to join hands to save a particular country’s? Does it need saving?
Maybe there is indeed a youth vote out there. Who is addressing it? Will the youth pull a surprise this May, or have we lost them already to the Game of Thrones?
Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO, TOUCH xda