It seems the Republican Party is finally winning back the senior crowd, according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup. The last 20 years have seen a shift of those aged 65 and over from being largely Democratic to Republican. The poll stated that older Americans in this age range have been much more Democratic than young people, which seems surprising. Seniors started to heavily lose faith in the Democratic Party back in 2006, and by 2010, the majority have shown that they absolutely prefer to back Republicans.
The poll seemed to say that the reason for this shift was because of racial polarization. Apparently, the reason more and more seniors are becoming Republican is because the majority of individuals in this demographic are white. The study is more or less saying that since the Republican Party is made up of primarily white folks, seniors, who are mostly white, feel more comfortable falling in line with their platform. There has been a pattern emerging over the years since President Obama was first sworn in, and that pattern is that any time a person of a different race gets placed into a position of political prominence and an individual disagrees with that person’s policies or performance, they are called a racist.
While there are definitely people on both sides of the aisle who are racists, the color of the president’s skin is not likely to be the reason the Republican Party is winning back the senior crowd. After all, this same crowd started shifting their values before Obama ever started campaigning for office. No, the reason for this massive political realignment has much more to do with liberal Democrat policies than it does race. Seniors used to be heavily Democratic and supportive of the platform held by liberal politicians, but as they have aged, it is likely they have seen first-hand that much of the economic policies put in place by Democrats are unsustainable. Perhaps they have, at this age, experienced the negative consequences financially and otherwise, that liberal policies have on society in the long-term.
As a person gets older, they see things from a different perspective, and often times, end up changing some of their values as a result of gaining life experience. When people are young, they often make decisions based on what feels good at the moment, while those who are older, seasoned by their time on earth, realize that emotionally based decisions rarely ever turn out well when looking at the big picture. Liberals have always been known to be an emotional bunch, pushing for legislation to help those in need, without any thought of how these policies might effect future generations or groups of people. There is a high probability that a shifting in values due to experience is a much bigger factor behind why older folks are going back to the right.
This shift is great news for Republicans, but in all honesty, if they want to get a conservative in the White House, they are going to have to reach young voters and minorities too. The older demographic alone is not going to be enough to pull power away from liberal Democrats. Finding a way to connect to both groups, especially with a huge gap in culture, is going to prove to be extraordinarily challenging. Especially since those from older generations tend to be much more socially conservative than younger folks, who tend to be more liberal or libertarian. One suggestion for Republicans on social issues would be to take a states’ rights stance, pushing for less federal restriction, and leaving the hard calls up to state legislatures. This enables candidates to stick to the traditional principles that connect with older voters, without alienating young people who might support things like same-sex marriage or drug legalization.
The times really do appear to be changing. With libertarian leaning Republican politicians winning over young liberals, and older Democrats coming back to the Republican Party, things seem promising for conservatives to take Congress this November, and possibly the White House in 2016.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell