The real up-and-coming force driving Election 2010? Seniors.
Seniors have always been among America's most committed voters. But starting in Election 2010, and continuing for two decades, their political power is expected to reach new heights.
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Rasmussen, Potter, Mr. Lynch, and others say the issues most important to this demographic will impact races for governor, the House, and Senate. New seniors are more opposed to the health-care law than younger adults, for example, partly because of the fear of change, partly because they fear the planned cuts in Medicare, but mostly, says Potter, “because senior citizens interact with the health-care system more than anybody else.”
Fears about the weak economy are another motivator. Seven in 10 workers plan to work after retiring and today are most likely to say President Obama’s policies made the economy worse, according to the independent nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute, based in Washington. (Six in 10 workers approved of Mr. Obama in week one of his presidency, says the institute, but only about 4 in 10 do so today.)
No lack of enthusiasm
Much is being made of the “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats, but there’s no lack of enthusiasm when it comes to older voters. Eighty-four percent of seniors who are registered to vote say they will “definitely” vote, says the Pew center, a figure that is 9 percent higher than the previous record in 1994.
Senior voters reflect, and strengthen, the prevailing national trends. The senior surge, like the electorate overall, is coming from the right, writes David Paul Kuhn, chief political correspondent for RealClearPolitics, an online political news and polling data aggregator.
“Democratic seniors and baby boomers are less engaged than past midterms,” he writes in an Oct. 18 article.
Mr. Kuhn points out that Democrats have always struggled with seniors, but this year is worse. Seniors favor electing a Republican in their district by 53 to 35 percent, whereas in their best years Democrats split the senior vote in 2006 and won the larger 60-plus bloc as they did in two Reagan-era midterms.
“This is why the president and all his surrogates from Michelle [Obama] to Bill Clinton are concentrating on college campuses, because they see more of the senior vote going Republican over all the issues key to seniors,” says Hal Dash, president and CEO of Cerrell & Accociates, a Democratic strategy consulting firm.
“Many former liberals and Democrats are becoming more conservative as they enter retirement and are absolutely concerned that their kids won’t have the benefits [or] income lifestyle that [they] enjoyed.”
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