FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Older voters and messaging
Yesterday, The Week (which is still my favorite magazine ((sorry, Playboy)) to read) put this up online yesterday:
Voters 65 and older used to be a reliably Democratic constituency. Then, in 2010, they flocked to the GOP, supporting Republican congressional candidates by a 59 percent to 38 percent margin — a brutal 21-point spread that contributed significantly to the GOP’s takeover of the House. In 2012, older voters stuck with the GOP, by a smaller 12-point margin (56 percent to 44 percent).
But, as the article continues to point out, there are some who are skeptical over whether or not the GOP can retain that vote. The National Journal certainly doesn’t seem to think so, but then again, the National Journal also looks at John Boehner and thinks “That man is extreme.” So take what they say with a grain of salt. And wash yourself thoroughly afterward because you will feel dirty.
Now, if you want to feel really dirty, look at how even Mother Jones isn’t convinced the GOP is going to lose the seniors as heavily as the National Journal suggests.
I’d want to know why the party’s approval ratings have dropped. If it’s because tea-partyish seniors think the GOP leadership isn’t conservative enough, that certainly doesn’t suggest much of a pickup opportunity for Democrats.
I have lye soap available at the end of this post for those who don’t like that they clicked on a Mother Jones link.
All of this is in reference to a column written by Erica Seifert, who works for Stan Greenburg’s polling firm, a firm convinced that old folks are flocking back to the Democrats in droves. I refer back to the Mother Jones point because (surprisingly) that’s exactly what has happened in the past two election cycles. In 2010, we were able to not only put Barack Obama on notice, but the GOP old guard, too. And it scared the hell out of McConnell, McCain, Graham and the rest, even more so than the Democrats, I’d wager.
Then 2012 came along and the establishment pushed back, forcing the not-conservative-at-all Mitt Romney onto us. And the older voters, like a lot of others, stayed home because they weren’t motivated enough to go out and vote.
So, where does that leave us now? Well, historically, sixth-year elections don’t bode well for the party in power. Think back to 2006. Add to that the fact that Democrats are more plagued by scandal now than the Republicans were in 2006, media coverage or no (I’d like to put forward the idea that if Fox News has the oldest viewing audience of any cable news network, and I believe they do, then those older voters know about the scandals).
Right now, the biggest threat to the Republicans and all their voter bases is messaging. It’s one thing to run ads. It’s another to lead by example. With the current crop, we’re only getting the former and no matter what you might hear some folks say, the American voters are not that dumb. They know when they’re being played. The only way I see the older voters leaving the GOP is if they feel as though they aren’t respected enough by them.
And, in case I wasn’t clear before, that’s not just a senior voter thing. That’s an every demographic thing.