New polling at the University of Arkansas shows elderly voters (65 and over) are trending Republican, an obvious problem for Democrats and President Obama given the high voting participation in the group. The difference is more pronounced in the South. The pronounced preference among white elderly voters for Republican identification offsets Democratic leanings among black and Hispanic voters. (For example: elderly Southern whites identify as Republicans 63-23.)
Overall, the results of this survey indicate that the traditional base of support among older voters that Democrats have relied upon since the partisan realignment following the New Deal continues to weaken. While older voters continue to vote in high percentages, compared to younger cohorts, clear support for the Democratic Party is confined largely to African Americans. While older Hispanics generally favored the Democratic Party, they showed substantial willingness to vote for Republican Senatorial candidates in the 2010 midterm election. Further, the traditional Democratic support among older Caucasians continues to decline, particularly among older Caucasians living in the South. If these trends continue, the 2012 presidential election will require the Democratic Party to continue to bring young, and often unreliable, voters to the polls. Further, the Democratic Party must continue to make inroads into the growing Latino/Hispanic population.
You understand now why, in destroying Medicare, Republicans have promised to retain the system as it exists for older voters and why they lied so often about Medicare in the 2010 election.
The good news for Democrats is, as Brummett notes today, the poor Republican presidential field.