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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kilgore: Seniors Souring on GOP May Help Dems in Midterms

Ed Kilgore’s “Are Old Folks Souring on the GOP?” at The Washington Monthly raises the interesting possibility that Republicans are losing their most reliable edge in the mid term elections, putting 2014 into serious play for Dems. Kilgore quotes Charlie Cook on Greenberg Quinlan Rosner polling data:

Democrats are closely watching the voting pattern of older Americans, a group that voted heavily Republican in the 2010 midterm and, to a lesser extent, in 2012; in March and July surveys, older voters’ responses are showing only about half the GOP margin they voted last November and about a quarter of the Republican margin in the 2010 midterm election. It’s unclear what exactly is going on, but this formerly strong Democratic group had moved pretty heavily against Democrats and Obama since he took office. Some signs indicate, however, this trend could be diminishing somewhat. And because older voters tend to vote in disproportionately higher numbers in midterm elections, any changes could be important.

Kilgore explains further:

In 2006, when Democrats made major gains, they took 49% of the senior vote. In the next mid-term, they lost seniors by a catastrophic 59-38 margin. And the Democratic share of the senior vote in the last three presidential elections has dropped from 47% in 2004 to 45% in 2008 to 44% in 2012. So it would be natural to expect a pretty bad number in this demographic for Democrats in 2014, with perhaps an even higher percentage of the electorate at play.
If, as GQR’s numbers suggest, the Republican momentum among old folks has not only diminished but reversed, that’s a very big deal.

With respect to GOP strategy to address eroding support among seniors, Kilgore adds:

As Cook notes, it’s not clear why this is happening if it is happening. But if Republicans are paying close attention to the phenomenon, as they should, the implications are pretty clear for those whose ideological inclinations point in this direction anyway: it’s time for another big Mediscare effort linked to attacks on Obamacare that encourage white retirees to view the Affordable Care Act as a raid on their hard-earned benefits and hard-earned earned tax dollars to show welfare on those people. Since Republicans also believe there’s big political hay to be made on Obamacare at the other end of the age spectrum, with young folks who perceive their need for health insurance as about as high a priority as their need for real estate on Mars, it’s really a no-brainer, and what “the base” would want to focus even if it didn’t represent a political opportunity.

Yet, with Republicans always trying to screw around with Social Security and Medicare, and increasing reports of GOP state officials welching on earned pensions hundreds of thousands of seniors have been counting on, you have to wonder, what took them so long?

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