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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seniors and 2012

Reid Wilson writes at National Journal:

Democrats have long based their bond with older voters on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But Democrats haven’t reaped much benefit: The party has beaten Republicans among older voters in just three of the last 10 presidential elections—1992, 1996, and 2000, according to exit polls.

Even in 2008, GOP nominee John McCain won voters older than 65 by a margin of 53 percent to 45 percent, though Democrats running for Congress won seniors by a narrow plurality of 49 percent to 48 percent.

But health care legislation and the flagging economy put further strains on the Democratic relationship with older voters. In 2010, Republicans took to the airwaves to tell seniors they would go to Washington to protect Medicare and Social Security from Democratic cuts. That November, Republicans won seniors by a margin of 59 percent to 38 percent, the largest percentage-point swing of any age demographic.

“It was almost the biggest part of the drop-off” Democrats experienced between 2008 and 2010, Greenberg said. “I think [seniors] saw a universal system being taken away from Medicare. They viewed [it as] expanding coverage, paid for by them.”

And more attacks are coming. “If our candidates are well-grounded in the details and can explain the problem and offer a reasonable solution, I think they’re going to have a good chance at winning a majority of those voters back,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.