Presidential candidates court young voters in what experts call a ‘quiet’ runoff campaign

Sep 6, 2023 | 0 comments

Presidential candidates Luisa González and Daniel Noboa are focusing on young voters in what analysts are calling an unusually “quiet” campaign ahead of the October 15 runoff.

Presidental candidate Daniel Noboa

“We are living in a new moment in Ecuadorian politics with everyone suddenly paying attention to the youth vote — and they should,” says former presidential campaign manager Andrea Yépez. “The unexpected emergence of the young Daniel Noboa in the runoff has changed the dynamic of the election.”

Yépez warns, however, that the candidates must remember the number one issue with all voters: crime.

According to newspaper columnist Lolo Echeverría, the new dynamic has lowered the tone of the campaign. “Because of the emphasis on social media messaging to the young, we are not hearing the heavy rhetoric we are accustomed to. Of course, the fact that a young outsider is in the runoff plays a role in this, upsetting the status quo.”

Although Echeverría says young voters, who he describes as those under 25, have often been overlooked in Ecuadorian politics, he wonders if too much emphasis is now being placed on them. “They are being courted mostly because of Noboa and his success with them but they are not the majority of voters.”

In the case of Citizens Revolution’s González, Echeverría thinks there is a danger of putting too much importance on the youth vote. “She needs to stay with the Citizens Revolution message that has been successful in the regional and Assembly elections,” says Echeverría. “Yes, paying attention to young voters and putting energy into social media is important but all voters, young and old, want to hear what she and Noboa will do about drug violence and unemployment.”

Political science professor Simón Pachano says he is not surprised by the low intensity of the runoff campaign. “After the first campaign, voters were overwhelmed, first by the Villavicencio assassination and then by the shock of Noboa making the runoff. Voters need a break, and it seems like the campaigns need one too,” he says. “I think the pause gives people time to reflect and, hopefully, time to consider which candidate offers the best solutions to the country’s problems.”

As the campaign develops, Pachano believes the major issues of violence and the economy will motivate voters as well as the over-arching Correista – anti-Correista divide. “Now, we are hearing all about young voters and reaching them on TikTok and Instagram, but I think this emphasis will pass. Then, we will hear more about how to fight the cartels and generate more jobs.”

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