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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Age Gaps

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Lisa Lerer and Denise Lu at NYT report that the youngest and oldest candidate in 2020 have a 40-year age gap between them, the largest in modern political history.
Age has never defined a race so sharply before. The 23 Democrats include one of the youngest presidential candidates in modern history and the oldest one, spanning four generations — from 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., to 77-year-old Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont.
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The two men leading most national polls — Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden — would be over 80 by the time they finished their first term in office, beating out Mr. Trump to become the oldest of any president elected to their first term. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who polls in third place in many surveys, will be 71 on Election Day.

Their age cuts a striking contrast with many of their rivals: Mr. Biden won his first statewide race for Senate in 1972, before eight of the Democratic candidates had been born. When Mr. Sanders entered Congress in 1990, 10 of his opponents had not yet graduated from college. Both men were the only candidates in federal office during the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first invasion of Iraq and the first major generational transition for their party in more than three decades — the election of Mr. Clinton in 1992.
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But the dominance of older voters at the polls may not hold in 2020. This presidential race is likely to be the first election in which voters under 40 make up the same proportion of the electorate as voters over 55 — nearly 40 percent of the electorate, according to some early projections. Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X outvoted older generations in the 2018 midterms, and early surveys show them on track to turn out in far greater numbers in next year’s primary contests than they did four years ago.