WHILE both the Trinamool and BJP focused their election campaign in West Bengal around youth, and jobs, an interesting poll factoid could have determined how that went down with the electorate. Election Commission data shows that in both absolute numbers and vote share, young voters, particularly first-timers, declined in the state compared to the last Assembly elections. At the same time, the state saw the highest rise among voters 80 years and older.
So while Bengal’s total voter numbers went up by 11.37%, from 6.58 crore in 2016 to 7.33 crore now, those under the age 30 declined by 1.21%, from 1.92 crore in 2016 to 1.90 crore in 2021. In terms of vote share, their fall was 3% — from 29% to 26%.
Of this chunk, the number of first-time voters — 18-19-year-olds – declined 0.76%, to 20.32 lakh in 2021 from 20.48 lakh in 2016. Their share in the total electorate declined from 3.11% to 2.77%.
The rate of decline was more in the 20-29 years age bracket, which saw voter numbers dip by 1.39%, from 1.72 crore in the last Assembly polls to 1.70 crore. In terms of proportion, this age group that formed the biggest chunk in 2016 — 26.19% — is now at 23.19% and is second largest.
However, the sharpest decline was in the 40-49 years age bracket. Voters in this category decreased by 8.48%, to 1.29 crore from 1.41 crore five years ago — their proportion came down from 21.52% to 17.69% during this period.
The number of voters in the 80+ age group increased by 37% — 8 lakh to 11 lakh — over the past five years, the highest among all age-groups. The proportion of this group to the total electorate went up from 1.25% to 1.54%.
Other older age brackets also saw an increase — 70-79 years by 33.23%; 60-69 years by 33.13%; 50-59 years by 22%; and 30-39 years 27.78%. The proportion of each of these groups to the total electorate also went up.
In fact, voters in the 30-39 age group now account for the highest — 23.82% — share in the state’s electorate. At 20.76%, this group had been the third largest chunk in 2016, after 20-29 years old (26.19%) and 40-49 years old (21.52%).