This week, we’re looking at aging in America, specifically the tidal wave of Baby Boomers spilling over the barrier of age 65. The numbers are startling; and their concerns involve their own needs, like Medicare. But, what about the overall political orientation of older voters?
New Study on older voters in fall election:
One way to explain the GOP sweep and resounding defeat of Democrats in last fall’s election? Older voters voted in larger numbers, and they went for Republicans like they haven’t before. According to an analysis published by the Gerontological Society of America, the turnout of those over age 65 was 23 percent, compared with 16 percent in 2008 and 19 percent in 2006. “Older adults’ support for Republicans this year was also extremely strong, with a whopping 21-point margin,” according to the report. In comparison, older adults gave Democrats a 1-point margin in 2008 and Republicans a 1-point margin in 2006.
The GSA report noted that it was difficult to say how much of the seniors’ swing toward Republicans last fall was due to health care reform. But “based on several analyses, it is safe to say that older adults still do not have a strong grasp of the improvements to Medicare and Medicaid in health-care reform, and many still believe that ‘death panels’ were or are in the law,” according to the report.
But What about the “New” Older Voters?
Those numbers in the GSA report don’t include Baby Boomers, since the oldest of them just turned 65 on New Year’s Day. It will be interesting to see how their votes affect future elections. Since the data say that 10,000 Boomers will turn 65 every single day for the next 20 years, no doubt senior Boomers will have some impact on American political life.
One thing we can say with some confidence is that health care will remain a major political issue for decades to come.
What do you think about these historic changes in American culture?
How will older Baby Boomers reshape the political landscape?
(Dr. Baker is away and has invited writer Terry Gallagher to carry us through the year-end holidays.)