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Nick Clegg and the youth vote

Could support among younger voters vanish come polling day?

If the Liberal Democrats manage to maintain their considerable momentum through tonight's debate and all the way until 6 May, the youth vote will be key. According to a recent Populus poll, the third biggest party enjoys a massive 40 per cent of support amongst 25 to 34-year-olds, and similarly strong support among 18 to 24-year-olds .

That's the good news for Nick Clegg and his party. The bad news? This support is traditionally soft -- research carried out last year by the Electoral Commission showed that only 44 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds were registered to vote.

The Electoral Commission launched a campaign earlier this year to address this hole in the electoral roll. The result: over 454,000 registration forms downloaded from the About My Vote website alone.

Another half a million new voters (assuming all those forms were filled in) could have significant impact on this election, an election that may after all come down to a few thousand votes.

The possibility of an bigger turnout, forecast by those such as Political Betting's Mike Smithson, could see a strengthening of the under-represented youth vote, and with it an enlarged share for the Lib Dems.

And while the Obama-Clegg comparisons were always ridiculous it's worth remembering that in 2008 the Democratic nominee won by appealing to the new electorate, not by eroding his opponents voting numbers.

 

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