Obama, Boomers and Older Voters
Kleyman, Paul, Aging Today
Age fosters conservatism, says conventional wisdom, and overviews of the Nov. 4 election tend to corroborate that notion-until one looks more closely at the electoral map.
Nationally, senior voters were the only age group to lean toward Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Those ages 60-plus cast ballots for McCain by 51% to Democrat Barack Obama's 47%. (McCain won 53% of the age 65-plus vote to Obama's 45%.)
More significantly, according to University of South Florida political scientist Susan A. MacManus, "When you look at the older vote state by state, those with larger minority populations went for Obama." She told Aging Today, "Where Obama did better than the national average with older voters, there tended to be more minorities, such as in Nevada." The large African American vote in core Southern states, such as Alabama and Mississippi, was offset by the overwhelming McCain vote by whites, reported The New York Tunes.
Future political candidates will need to keep an eye on the generally larger turnout of older voters than younger ones, as well as the growing inroads ethnic and racial voters are making in the electorate, MacManus said. Among all age groups, the percentage of white voters declined in the 2008 election to 74% from 87% in 1992, when Bill Clinton won the White House.
Older women also tended to break more for Obama, MacManus said. Women of all ages preferred Obama by 56% to 43%, whereas men edged toward him by 49% to 48%, according to election-day exit interviews conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for a pool of national news organizations, such as The New York Times, and the major news networks.
In interviews with older voters, MacManus found "a mixed response," especially as the election drew nearer. "Some moved back to Obama from McCain," she said. "People I've interviewed indicated that they switched to Obama because they were more worried about their children and grandchildren's future in the end than about traditional senior issues, such as Medicare and Social Security."
Among those who voted for the GOP candidate, even though voters age 70 or older grew up in the Depression and have positive memories of Democratic president Roosevelt, MacManus said many elders told her they favored McCain because of his greater experience. …