Praise be to Matt Fletcher, who directed us within mere hours of our post to a host of excellent Kingston bloggers. Among the list was Stephen Taylor's blog, which caught our Orange eye with a provocative dig at the NDP:
"The NDP claims to be the party of youth and thus claims to appeal to voters of my generation... [but] the Conservative Party has a greater number of young MPs than the NDP has MPs of any age in its entire caucus."
Stephen illustrates the old-fart-iness of the NDP with a sepia-toned montage, followed closely by a colour picture of all the young-buck Tory MPs gathered together, with Stevie Harper basking in their reflected youth.
Okay, it's just dipper-baiting, but we're still interested: Is it true? Is the young political class disproportionately Conservative? Data shows that NDP voters are more likely to be young -- but what about candidates? Is the 'party of youth' steered by aging hippies and outdated ideologues?
We're hoping not, and here's our alternative hypothesis: The Tories are young because of safe seats.
Here's our thinking:
1) We suspect that young candidates (under 40 vs. over 40, using Stephen's own dichotomy) are, controlling for other factors, less successful candidates.
2) We also suspect that the Conservative Party of Canada has far more 'safe' seats (i.e. ridings with several terms of Ref./CA/CPC MPs with >20% margins of victory) than do the NDP.
3) We finally suspect that the CPC's has more 'ideological' safe seats (where the seat is safe because of high levels of party support) than 'personality' safe seats (where the seat is saved because of a charismatic and well-liked local politco)
If each of those are true, here's our guess:
1) The NDP and CPC likely field roughly similar percentages of under-40 candidates, but...
2) A young candidate in the CPC is more likely to find themselves in a safe riding, so...
3) Young candidates have a better shot at winning a seat despite their age in the CPC.
We could test this by looking at the slate of candidates offered by the CPC and NDP, the riding history for each riding and the results... but Elections Canada doesn't seem to have any datasets that include the candidate's age, though it's one of the few mandatory questions on the nomination form.
We know that this is a lengthy riposte to what amounts to a fun-but-empty nyan-nyan partisan jab, but it still twigged our interest.
So, how do we get around the lack-o'-data problem? Hey, data librarian, little help?
Oh, and PS: We promise not to greet all our fellow Kingston bloggers with a polisci throwdown. Sorry, we're just nerdy like that.