Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Will Older Voters Hurt Democrats in 2010 Midterm Election?

Posted Sep 08, 2009 at 1:25 AM by Maurice Berger

Will 2010 be the year of the angry white senior, especial in more localized House races? A recent analysis by the Cook Report suggests it may: "Today's divide . . . is the generation gap – no, make that gulf – that characterized President Obama’s victory in 2008. In 1992 and 2000, Bill Clinton and Al Gore performed just slightly better among voters 60 and older than they did among voters 18 to 29 years of age. But in 2008, Obama won 66 percent of voters 18 to 29 and just 45 percent of voters 65 and older – a staggering 21 point difference. Much has been made about how this disparity in support poses a big long-term problem for the GOP. That’s true, assuming younger voters maintain their current outlook towards the political parties as they age. But aside from flurries of stories about angry senior citizens packing town halls, precious little attention has been given to why the generation gulf poses a grave short-term threat to Democrats in 2010."

"Put simply, older voters dominate midterms and have consistently been Obama's weakest age group. Unlike Bill Clinton’s gender gap, Obama’s generation gap complicates Democrats’ midterm math substantially. There's little discernible variation in gender shares of the electorate from midterm to presidential years. But midterm electorates typically skew older and whiter than those in presidential years. According to exit poll data, voters over 45 comprised 54 percent of the total electorate in 2004 and just 53 percent of the electorate in 2008, but they were 63 percent of all voters in 2006. And diminished turnout on the part of African-American and Hispanic voters, which was a factor in 1994, looks like a double whammy for Democrats."