There are many different aspects that factor in to demographics. First of all they must be registered voters. You can appeal to someone who has a strong opinion but if they are not registered to vote, their opinion does not matter. You have party affiliation and religious backgrounds as well as racial demographics and age. Of all these, and even more demographic breakdowns, age, happens to be one of the most crucial.
It is a fact that out of all specialized categories of voters, senior citizens are the segment who are most dedicated in an election. It is a group that exceeds all other cross tabs including race, gender or religion.
Senior citizens cherish their vote and they use it. There are many reasons for this fact. One deals with the fact that people of retirement age have entered into a less fast paced lifestyle and are not bogged down by long commutes to work and trying to meet deadlines in between addressing all the needs of their domestic lives. This gives them more time to focus on the issues and pay more attention to them. Other reasons deal with the fact that with their age also comes the revelation of the importance in their vote. They have come to learn that the leaders of our nation have more of a direct impact on us than other citizens think or understand. Unlike some younger voters who still feel invincible and detached from the effects of Washington, D.C., senior citizens realize the direct impact that Washington has on us.
Because of these points, senior citizens are the most important voting bloc in almost any election and most definitely in any national election. They comprise almost 14 percent of the national population. More importantly, they comprise an even larger percentage of the voting populace. More than 83 percent of this population registered to vote in the last election. That is the largest percentage of voters out of all other demographic groups. Furthermore, of the 83 percent who can vote, more than 74 percent actually cast a ballot, accounting for the highest voter turnout of any demographic.
All of this clearly demonstrates the importance of the senior citizen vote in the United States. So much so that their approval rating amounts to a number worth watching, especially when it comes to the approval of President Obama.
This week a Gallup poll put President Obama at his lowest approval rating yet and it shows that his approval rating since Election Day has slipped in virtually every age group. But the most significant of all drops came from seniors.
In April the President had 60% of the senior citizen population behind him but today a whopping 17% have been turned off by the change that President Obama wanted us to believe in and now his approval rating from those 65 and older is at 47%. Six percent of that turnaround came about in just the last month.
This bodes well for the G.O.P.
With senior citizens being such reliable voters and making up a significant portion of the electorate, the direction they head in could help to change the direction of Republican prospects.
In the 2008 presidential election, seniors were the only demographic which Republicans performed better with than they did in previous elections. John McCain received 53% of their votes, a percentage that exceeded George Bush’s senior citizen vote totals.
Take into consideration the fact that in 2008, an unusually heavy youth vote, which turned out in greater numbers due to then Senator Obama’s appeal to them and the fact that presidential elections normally draw more infrequent voters to the polls, and Democrats will be at a disadvantage in 2010. Not only do fewer people vote in mid-term elections, or non-presidential election years, but fewer people are standing behind President Obama now than were in 2008.
However, as pointed out earlier, senior citizens, as a voting bloc, tend to vote in all elections.
When you combine the President’s precipitous drop in approval, especial among those 65 and older, with a smaller portion of the liberal base that voted in 2008 turning out to vote in 2010, you have the potential for a dramatically different election results next November.
None of this has been ignored by Republicans and much of it probably accounts for the Senior’s Healthcare Bill of Rights that the R.N.C. put out earlier this week.
If the 17% reduction in support for the President, and Democrats, among senior citizens, were to remain as it is, those numbers will have a dramatic impact on the makeup of Congress.
The following districts have some of the oldest populations in the country, and each has been a swing district over the past few years. A look at just the seven swing districts listed here which are currently held by Democrats makes this clear.
Florida 22nd – Klein
North Carolina 11th – Shuler
Arizona 8th – Giffords
Pennsylvania 4th – Altmire
New Jersey 3rd – Adler
Pennsylvania 10th – Carney
Pennsylvania 11th – Kanjorski
These seven, already competitive districts have some of the largest senior citizen populations in the nation and will surely be targeted by the G.O.P. with strong candidates and an aggressive focus on the reliable senior citizen voting blocs that exist in them.
As noted by Charlie Cook, the knowledgeable and renowned political guru behind the Cook Report, “Many veteran Congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats.”
According to The Cook Political Report, Congressional election model, based on individual races, all factors “point toward a net Democratic loss of between six and 12 seats, but our sense, factoring in macro-political dynamics is that this is far too low.”
Cook added “that the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.”
In previous accounts, I have noted that President Obama must “change gears”. I stated that not because I want Democrats to increase their victories at the polls. I made the remark essentially because his current governing methods are creating a sense of exactly what Charlie Cook stated, “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats”. Cook made that statement in the context of electoral support. I make my claim in the context of our nation moving forward and addressing the problems of economic hardship and international dangers.
If President Obama does not “change gears” I believe that in the coming months, there will be a crisis of confidence among Americans. That will not help anyone.
President Obama must drop his partisan practices. He is not the leader of the D.N.C. and he must begin to work with Republicans and demonstrate that he is the President of the United States and not some leader of a liberal lobbying firm. He must stop trying to ride roughshod over those who do not agree with him.
He must also start to indicate that he is not just talking and dictating to the people but that he is also listening to the people.
If he fails to change his leadership methods he will hear from the people when during next year’s midterm elections, they join with seniors and not necessarily vote for Republicans but definitely vote against Democrats.