Can the selection of Andrew Scheer woo the youth vote from the Liberals?
Can Andrew Scheer lure young voters from Liberals?
With Andrew Scheer, the Conservative Party picked the youngest leadership choice available this past weekend, but it’s unclear whether that will be enough to attract key younger voters.
At 38, Scheer is younger than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or current NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
The Conservatives lost in 2015, not because their core support left them but because a new crop of 18- to 34-year-old voters turned out to support Justin Trudeau.
James Hawkes, 25, is among Scheer’s supporters. Joined by fellow party members in Saskatoon, where he is involved with campus Conservatives, he watched his preferred candidate come to victory. Hawkes has no doubt Scheer will be able to bridge the generational divide.
“He’s the closet thing we have had to a millennial in any of the major parties,” he said. “Andrew is going to appeal to youth, definitely.”
Hawkes said millennials don’t all think the same way, and Scheer’s pledge to remove funding from universities that don’t protect freedom of speech will have broad appeal.
“They don’t feel they’re allowed to speak about what matters to them and their beliefs on various topics,” he said.
Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research, polled extensively on the race. He said that even though Scheer is younger, he’s unlikely to tap into the youth vote.
“Despite Andrew Scheer’s appearance and age, they picked the wrong candidate to appeal to millennials,” said Maggi. “With his ideology, with his policy background, I don’t think he is going to have an easy time.”
He said Scheer’s social conservatism — even if he is committing not to legislate on it — is going to be a tough sell for younger voters.
Maggi said he believes Scheer is banking on those voters staying home or gravitating to a new NDP leader in 2019.
“He’s not interested in increasing the size of the Conservative tent,” he said. “There is no real interest in reaching out.”
Andrew Scheer, centre, newly elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, with his rival Maxime Bernier, left, following his win on Saturday.