Why, it seems like just yesterday that the GOP could count on the seniors!
I'm sure you've heard about this, but if you haven't this is really big news. I've openly wondered for years why seniors were backing the tea party and GOP since their plan is to raise the retirement age on all entitlements, cut benefits to Medicare and destroy Social Security. I believe some of this is getting through to many of them who aren't hard and fast ideologues. Check out this dispatch from Carville-Greenburg Memo:
There’s something going on with seniors: It is now strikingly clear that they have turned sharply against the GOP. This is apparent in seniors’ party affiliation and vote intention, in their views on the Republican Party and its leaders, and in their surprising positions on jobs, health care, retirement security, investment economics, and the other big issues that will likely define the 2014 midterm elections.
There’s something going on with seniors: It is now strikingly clear that they have turned sharply against the GOP. This is apparent in seniors’ party affiliation and vote intention, in their views on the Republican Party and its leaders, and in their surprising positions on jobs, health care, retirement security, investment economics, and the other big issues that will likely define the 2014 midterm elections...
—In 2010, seniors voted for Republicans by a 21 point margin (38 percent to 59 percent). Among seniors likely to vote in 2014, the Republican candidate leads by just 5 points (41 percent to 46 percent.)
—When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives at the beginning of 2011, 43 percent of seniors gave the Republican Party a favorable rating. Last month, just 28 percent of seniors rated the GOP favorably. This is not an equal-opportunity rejection of parties or government — over the same period, the Democratic Party’s favorable rating among seniors has increased 3 points, from 37 percent favorable to 40 percent favorable.
—When the Republican congress took office in early 2011, 45 percent of seniors approved of their job performance. That number has dropped to just 22 percent — with 71 percent disapproving.
—Seniors are now much less likely to identify with the Republican Party. On Election Day in 2010, the Republican Party enjoyed a net 10 point party identification advantage among seniors (29 percent identified as Democrats, 39 percent as Republicans). As of last month, Democrats now had a net 6 point advantage in party identification among seniors (39 percent to 33 percent).
—More than half (55 percent) of seniors say the Republican Party is too extreme, half (52 percent) say it is out of touch, and half (52 percent) say the GOP is dividing the country. Just 10 percent of seniors believe that the Republican Party does not put special interests ahead of ordinary voters.
—On almost every issue we tested — including gay rights, aid to the poor, immigration, and gun control — more than half of seniors believe that the Republican Party is too extreme.
I know we're used to seeing crazed white-bread seniors at tea party rallies, riding around on their Medicare funded scooters and yelling at the Marxist/Kenyan/anti-American President Obama to stop using the government to take away their freedoms --just like this Matt Taibbi account:
Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.
"The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."
"I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control."
"OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?"
"Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."
I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"
Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!
"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"
"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"
That's not the reality of the situation now.
If the trend holds, this is a very big deal, folks, not just in the long term but in the immediate future. It’s the grip the GOP had on white seniors that made the 2010 GOP landslide possible, and which had convinced most attentive observers that Republicans possessed a big advantage going into 2014 no matter what was going on across the issue landscape, given the disproportionate turnout of seniors in midterms.
Digby writes that the change could be attributed to the massive flow of baby boomers entering senior-hood:
I don't know how much these new numbers are a reflection of that. But the vanguard of the baby boom has been entering the category of Senior Citizen since 2007. And like I said, there are a lot of them. I'd be very surprised if they aren't t least partly responsible for this change in senior attitudes. And there's no doubt in my mind that boomers are going to change this cohort in many different ways over the next few decades just as they changed everything else in their (our) lives.
If the GOP is assuming this very active and politically aware demographic is a carbon copy of their own parents that would be a big mistake. They are a very different animal. And these are people, for better or worse, who have always been engaged and are going to be even more so in their elder years.
I love the part about the GOP being too extreme for them. Preibus only wants to empower the fanatics more in his party so I hope this trend continues of wingnuts running the roost.