With seniors turning on Republicans, are Republicans done?
Carville and Greenberg notice something interesting, and perhaps transformational, going on:
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.
We first noticed a shift among seniors early in the summer of 2011, as Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare became widely known (and despised) among those at or nearing retirement. Since then, the Republican Party has come to be defined by much more than its desire to dismantle Medicare. To voters from the center right to the far left, the GOP is now defined by resistance, intolerance, intransigence, and economics that would make even the Robber Barons blush. We have seen other voters pull back from the GOP, but among no group has this shift been as sharp as it is among senior citizens.
It’s never made much sense to me why seniors would vote Republican given the the Republican effort to dismantle the social safety net, the government programs so many seniors rely on, but I suppose there’s something to be said for tradition, and of course part of voting Republican is being motivated by fear of change, of the new, of what is young and different.
But the Republican Party is moving further and further to the right, becoming the party solely of anti-government Tea Party types, right-wing Christian fundamentalists, neocon warmongers, and, of course, the Romney-style rich. And for all the post-election talk of rebranding, the Republican Party is doubling down on pushing away minority voters as well, it seems, as anyone else who isn’t of this ideological stripe, including seniors generally.
We’ll see if this holds next year. Midterm elections are characterized by low voter turnout dominated by an older, whiter electorate. But if Republicans are losing old white people, at least enough of them to make a difference, what hope do they have?
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