Seniors Appear to Follow Generational Voting

Election 2012 looms on the not-so-distant horizon. Political pundits look for data to slice and dice information about possible supporters. Constituents are wooed based on race, sex, religion, economics, as well as a host of other factors. This election season, there’s a new line being drawn in the sand and it marks a generational division.

According to the Pew Research Center’s The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election, this election especially is seeing a difference in the way people vote as informed by their generation.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1993, and turned 18 somewhere between 1999 and 2011. Shaped by the politics and conditions of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this group, according to the New York times “holds liberal attitudes on most social and governmental issues.” Staunch supporters of Obama in 2008, this time around they appear less politically engaged. This most diverse generation remains upbeat about the future.

Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. They turned 18 between 1983 and 1998. Similar in views to their Millennial counterparts, they are mostly liberal, but have soured in their view of big government. This group experienced the Reagan era and voted both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton into office. While giving most of their votes to Obama the first time around, currently their votes as a group are split between Obama and Romney.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) turned 18 between 1964 and 1982. This largest group of registered voters have expressed their frustration with government as they face an uncertain financial future. Older Boomers tend to vote more Democratic than younger generation members, but this election sees the group vote shift as many must look to delaying their retirement.

The Silent Generation (1925-1945) 67-87– came of age between the late 1940s and early 1960s. This group of over 80% of Americans age 65 and older – has held historically conservative views. Once one of the most Democratic generations, the majority identify as conservatives and tend to vote the Republican Party. They prefer the GOP’s stance on most issues except for Social Security which, not surprisingly, is listed as this group’s main concern. They are vocal group and their vote may sway the entire election.

One group didn’t make it into the PRC’s study are our nation’s Centenarians. The relatively small voting group of those over born before 1925 (72,000 according to the Census Bureau) are, as a group, Obama supporters. Many cast their first votes for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and may have even seen Theodore Roosevelt in the flesh. They saw the advent of women’s right to vote and many (but certainly not all) tend to vote Democratic. President Obama has a great showing among this group. And interestingly, because of aging well, this group is the fastest growing group in the country. Gallup points out that the generational divide exists primarily among non-Hispanic white voters. According to the poll, age makes little difference in voting preferences among nonwhites, more than 70% of whom support Obama regardless of their age category.

How about you? Do you fall in with your generation’s ideals? What social events shape your political views? Perhaps you are the caregiver to a Centenarian. Does their political outlook vary differently from yours? It will be interesting to watch the election results with an eye on the generation gap and how it will figure into the election results.


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