Does age matter in politics?

I did a small analysis on the Yle vaalikone data tonight. I wanted to find out if young and old politicians differ in their opinions. Can I, as a fairly young voter, expect to find my political soul mate among my peers?

Well, that seems to depend on what questions are important to you. By calculating the correlation (I just used the correl-function in Excel) between the age of the candidate and the answers given in the voters advice application you get an idea of how well political opinions and age are linked together. The bigger the correlation, the wider the gap between young and old:

Correlation between age political opinions

The strongest correlations here are between 0,2 and 0,3. What does this mean in practice? Lets look at one of the questions more closely. The biggest difference between old and young candidates appears on the question about whether registered homosexual couples should have the same rights heterosexual couples. I did a visualization in Many Eyes to illustrate the difference: (click to open interactive full size version in Many Eyes)

Should homosexual couples have same rights as hetero couples?

So, do you think gay rights are important? Start looking among the young candidates for your pick. Is Nato, the length of the work day or the right to strike the most burning questions? In that case age is really just a number.