The Student Vote: What Motivates 18-25 Year Olds Leading Up To the Federal Election

This paper is a summary of public opinion research that surveyed students aged 18 to 25 across Canada in March of 2019. The results of the research take a political pulse on the electoral intentions of the student population, identifies student’s top priorities and concerns, and provides insights into how students are feeling about issues impacting post-secondary in Canada.

This public opinion research was commissioned by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and conducted by Abacus Data.

Key Findings  

The Federal Election and Political Opinions

  • Contrary to common assumption, students aged 18 to 25 are not apathetic. Polling reveals that 58% report either being “extremely motivated” or “reasonably motivated” to vote compared with 12% reporting being “not that motivated” or “not motivated at all”. 96% of students surveyed report that it is important to vote, and 93% plan on voting in the 2019 federal election.
  • If an election were at the time of the survey (in March), 27% of students aged 18 to 25 would vote for the Liberal Party, compared with 20% for the New Democratic Party and 19% for the Conservative Party. However, the 16% of student voters whose vote is still unsure could sway the results in another party’s favour.
  • The Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party had the largest pools of accessible voters among students aged 18 to 25, with 64% and 61% reporting that they would consider voting for them respectively. Comparatively, only 19% of students in this age group reported that they would consider voting for the People’s Party of Canada.
  • As the most well-known candidate, Justin Trudeau was the preferred Prime Minister of students aged 18 to 25, with 39% support. Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh were virtually tied, with 21% and 20% of student respondents selecting them as their preferred Prime Minister respectively. That being said, 61% of students would prefer to see a change in government. 

Top Concerns for Students

  • Students’ top 5 priorities include:
    • Creating good job opportunities for young Canadians
    • Making college and university more affordable
    • Dealing with climate change and the environment
    • Making housing more affordable
    • Improving Canada’s health care system
  • Students are generally optimistic about the future. In fact, 83% of students reported their outlook on the future as “optimistic.” However, 65% of students report being “worried” about student debt, and 64% report being “worried” about the job market.

Other Findings

  • 44% of students experiencing financial difficulty have had to miss some kind of payment while in study. Students report most commonly needing to miss credit card payments, cell phone bills, and even to skip out on groceries.
  • Students are divided about whether automation will have an impact on their job prospects. 41% think it will reduce their opportunities, 28% think it will increase their opportunities, and 28% think it won’t have an impact. That being said, 78% are concerned about it.
  • With regards to sexual violence on post-secondary campuses, 66% of students report either being “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about this. 79% of students think the government needs to either be doing “much more than it is today” or “somewhat more than it is today”.
  • Students in Canada would also like to see more post-secondary access for Indigenous students. 74% of students report that government needs to do “much more than it is today” or “somewhat more than it is today” to increase Indigenous enrollment.
CASA ACAE

About CASA ACAE

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations advocates for better post-secondary education and aims to improve the lives of students. L'Alliance canadienne des associations étudiantes défend les intérêts des étudiant(e)s.
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The Student Vote: What Motivates 18-25 Year Olds Leading Up To the Federal Election
The Student Vote: What Motivates 18-25 Year Olds Leading Up To the Federal Election
@CASAACAE unites and amplifies the voices of post-secondary students across Canada. Find out more!