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Posted: 6/15/2003 1:20:11 AM EDT
[url]http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/15/weekinreview/15STOL.html?ex=1056254400&en=83ee9eb37f59a87e&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE[/url] Baby Boomers Transform an Old Bloc By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG WASHINGTON — Few people paid attention to the minutiae of how older Americans voted in Florida's 1998 election for governor. Susan A. MacManus was one of them, and in her analysis of Jeb Bush's victory, there is an important lesson about Democrats, Republicans and the legendary elderly voter bloc. Professor MacManus, an expert at the University of South Florida in voting trends among the elderly, said she was hardly surprised to learn that voters 65 and older cast their ballots for Mr. Bush's Democratic opponent. After all, it is an axiom of politics that the elderly tend to vote Democratic. But when the professor changed her definition of elderly to include people 60 and older, a funny thing happened to her statistics: the vote tilted Republican. By last year, when Governor Bush won re-election, a majority of the elderly — by any definition — voted for him. The governor's brother, President Bush, may have been mindful of those numbers last week when he prodded Congress toward adopting a Medicare prescription drug benefits package that included a provision he had previously opposed. Older Americans have long been a powerful force in national politics. But as he heads into the 2004 election, Mr. Bush has more reasons than ever to court them. First, Mr. Bush's approval ratings among elderly voters are not as high as among the general electorate. According to a poll conducted last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, voters 65 and older gave a modest 53 percent approval rating, compared with 64 percent for people 18 to 64. Second, the ranks of older Americans will only grow as the baby boom generation ages. There were 35 million people 65 and older in the United States in 2000, but the number is expected to increase to 39.7 million by 2010. Finally, the elderly vote is increasingly up for grabs. As the F.D.R. generation dies out, the demographics of the elderly are changing. Today's older voters are typically more educated and affluent than their parents, and they are increasingly willing to align themselves with Republicans. Over the next 10 years, then, this is the group that is going to dominate American politics. "Seniors are one of three crucial groups for Republican candidates, along with independents and women," said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster. "When you look at the last couple of elections, Republicans have done extremely well with senior citizens. Part of that is because we spend a lot more time in our campaigns talking about their issues and targeting them, as opposed to just cowering in fear when the Democrats play the `scare seniors' card." That card worked well with the elderly of yesteryear, for whom voting Republican may have felt unnatural. But a growing number of retirees spent their formative years with a Republican in the White House, said John C. Rother, a lobbyist for AARP, which represents the nation's retirees. "People turning 65 today were born in 1938," Mr. Rother said. "If you were born in '38, you barely remember the Second World War. You are basically an Eisenhower kid. You are more likely to have grown up in the suburbs. You are less likely to have been a union member. You are much more likely than your parents to have been white collar. Your attachment to F.D.R. is much less than your parents' generation. So it's all trending in a Republican direction." Exit polls from the 2000 presidential race conducted by the Voter News Service showed that 47 percent of people 60 and older voted Republican, compared with 44 percent in 1996. And after years of voting Democratic in Congressional races, the 60-and-older group voted Republican from 1994 to 1998, but swung back to Democrats in 2000. There is no poll data available for 2002. At the same time, the elderly are important simply because they go to the polls — at a time when the nation is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. "Because their turnout rates are so much higher than other age groups, in a way, their vote is magnified," said Professor MacManus of the University of South Florida.
Link Posted: 6/15/2003 6:15:13 AM EDT
Well the retired people has more time for politics, whereas when they were younger these were busy with family and work. Now they are not working and the kids are grown, these baby boomers have more time to follow politics. Politics require a lot of time and effort to follow because of the intracacies involves, whereas somethings are not what it seems to the eye.
Link Posted: 6/15/2003 6:28:06 AM EDT
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