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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Could seniors abandon the Republican Party?

Erica Seifert first raised the question in The Carville-Greenberg Memo in August, after Democracy Corps’ polling found that, by several metrics, the GOP’s standing among voters over 65 had plummeted since the 2010 midterms. Additionally, Democracy Corps found that overwhelming majorities of seniors wanted to protect Medicare benefits and premiums, raise pay for working women, and cut subsidies to big business in order to invest in education, infrastructure, and technology, among many other policies that are anathema to Republican politicians.

“The more seniors hear from Republicans on these and other issues, the more we can expect the GOP’s advantage among this important group to decline,” Seifert wrote at the time. Three months later, it appears that she was correct.

On Wednesday, Democracy Corps will release its latest battleground poll, comprised of the 49 most competitive Republican districts and the 24 most competitive Democratic seats. And the GOP’s performance among seniors should terrify Republicans:

In the Republican battleground, the vote is tied among seniors and the Democratic candidate has gained 5 points among this group since June. In the Democratic battleground, Democratic incumbents lead by 14 points among seniors and by 9 points (48 percent to 39 percent) among white seniors.

This is not unique to the battleground. It reflects the results we have seen in all Democracy Corps’ national polls this year. In the latest national poll conducted with Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, a Republican candidate for Congress leads by just 6 points (49 percent to 43 percent) among seniors, well below the GOP’s 21 point margin in the 2010 midterms and 12 point margin in the 2012 elections.

With seniors some of the most immediate beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama no longer on the ballot, and with Republicans seeking to make Medicare and Medicaid cuts, it is possible seniors are moving to a new place.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the damage that this trend could do to the GOP. Having completely disregarded the Republican National Committee’s warning that the party must broaden its appeal to win future elections, Republicans have instead left themselves hugely reliant on their aging, white base. If voters over 65 start voting Democratic in large numbers, then the GOP will find itself at serious risk of losing its once-ironclad majority.

Photo: longislandwins via Flickr

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