Elderly Voting Trends and the essay

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Returning to the Churchill quote, we note that the Democratic Party, the
relative left wing of today's political world, does contain the majority of
the young vote in America. It is also the case that many members of the
labor class and the majority of minority citizens also make up the
Democratic Party. Conversely, Republicans tend to be an older, wealthier,
and whiter than Democrats. The Republicans swept the 2002 election and left

our George W. Bush with no significant opposition to any of his agendas.
In the Federalist Papers James Madison warns that checks and balances are
necessary to ensure that no one faction possesses too much power. During a
rare moment in history, this election would deliver us to a time of
singular Republican dominance, with both houses of Congress and the
Executive office occupying America with an aggressively militaristic and
socially conservative agenda. These are characteristics which would
promote a cultural sympathy for the perspective of America's senior
citizens. And where the presidency of George W. Bush has been concerned,
the elderly have tended to be a lynchpin to his electoral success even as
policy and performance ratings have tended to suffer. As a 2008 article
from The Senior Journal notes, in the 2004 presidential election, "Mr. Bush
received support from 53 percent of voters 60 and over, compared to 46
percent for Kerry, according to the exit polls. The vote was slightly
different for those 65 and older, with only 51 percent supporting Bush and
48 percent for Kerry." (Senior Journal, 1) Given some of the obstacles to
political engagement or voting for the young or working class American, we
may deduce that the combination of a very high senior voter turnout as
described here above and the considerable gap in party support, will
generally result in a Republican victory.
Though there may be little that can be done to alter the cultural
patterns that cause a resonance between certain Republican issues and a
general mode of senior conservatism, it should at least be reasonable to
stimulate higher percentages of voter turnout amongst young voters and the
labor class. The Wattenberg text offers several solutions for how this can
be accomplished. A reasonable idea for boosting the worker vote is to make
Election Day a national work holiday. This would give the laborer at least
an opportunity to participate in election day without fear of occupational
reprisal. Still, the far more vexing problem of bringing the younger
generation to the polls might also be addressed by the creation of such a
holiday, which might underscore the importance of voting to the whole of
the nation. At present, however, there are no credible discussions
concerning the creation of such a policy. Thus, it is only electorally
prudent to pursue the youth vote with balance to a pursuit of the senior
vote. In fact, in the case of Republican candidate and supporter of the
outgoing administration, John McCain, it would be fair to say that the
senior vote is the most important voting population in his constituency.
Indeed, a high-ranking member of the Bush Administration and a campaign
advisor for McCain, Tom Ridge remarked in a recent article that McCain's
strengths as a senior citizen himself are the very same which appeal to
older voters. To this end, "Ridge said he thinks McCain appeals to older
voters because they appreciate that age gives you experience, and that,
'It's not what you say, it's what you do.' (Hefling, 1) A statement which
is as much a slant against Obama's highly regarded oratorical skills as it
is a statement in favor of McCain's public service record, Ridge's
sentiment underscores the view which often tends to create a degree of
association between the elderly and the Republican party.
That notwithstanding, there are patterns in the elderly voting public
that are suggesting, concurrent with other demographic shifts during the
current election, that the elderly may at least in increasing numbers find
support for Obama. Perhaps chief among the factors which does help Obama
is the indication that certain factors are decreasing the elderly vote
altogether. In the context of the modern election, one aspect which is
changing the tide for voters is that concerning the nature of balloting.
Given the balloting breakdowns which have occurred in recent presidential
elections, there is a justified share of scrutiny which has been paid to
the manner in which votes are now being cast. One measure which continues
to experience a justified wealth of scrutiny is the computerized voting
machine, which records your selection without the provability of a paper
trail. In addition to this and various implied relationships between
ballot machine manufacturers and competing political parties, the
electronic voting machine is under intense scrutiny. Separate to this
conflict is another clear point of evidence that the use of such machines
has had a discouraging impact on the voting tenacity of the elderly.
According to an article from 2003, "consistent with the hypothesis that
computers scare the elderly, we find a significantly negative relationship
between the change in voter turnout and the elderly share of the
population. An additional 1% of the population that is elderly is
associated with a 0.3-0.4% decrease in turnout. The hypothesis that elderly
voters were apprehensive about the change in voting technology is also
supported by the increase in absentee balloting." (Roseman & Stephenson,
39) And given the demographic trends which have been precipitated by the
scale of the baby boomer generation, the population of seniors is growing
faster than the population of new voters. Therefore, the fact that
evidence suggests a declination in senior voting turnout in contexts where
computer balloting has been instituted is suggestive of the assumption that
this technology has been alienating to an historically reliable voter
group.
And in the current election, while the losing McCain candidacy has
all but ignored a youth vote which of late especially seems to find nothing
appealing about the Republican party, Obama's focus has been multi-
stratified. First and foremost, his campaign has been fueled by young and
minority voters who are determined to take a leading stake in the future of
our nation, and who are driven by a sense that the senior citizenry which
has so often occupied positions of leadership in our nation are those very
same leaders who have led us astray in recent years. The expectation,
therefore, is that the youth vote will actually constitute an important
response in this election to historical dominance by older voters.
Nonetheless, Obama's campaign does recognize the influence which
elderly voters tend to have on the electoral process. His recent focus has
been on stimulating an awareness amongst older voters that the promise of
another Republican administration will have negative consequences for
senior citizens and the issues that they care about. This shift is
exposing a Republican vulnerability even in this stalwart support group.
At present, "Obama appears to be gaining ground among seniors. In an AP-GfK
Poll earlier this month, the two candidates were in a statistical tie."
(Hefler, 1) This is remarkable and promising, suggesting that many of the
wedge issues which have been used to define the political stripes of
specific demographics are increasingly impotent in the face of real and
mounting evidence that recent leadership has been a failure for Americans
of all ages.
The presidential election upcoming promises to be an important
demonstration of the need for change in America, with voters young and old
aligning to bring Obama the presidency. The unpopularity of the outgoing
administration and the various identifiable failures of the presidency, not
the least of which is the floundering economy, have demonstrated that in
many ways, the elderly tend to vote according to that which most directly
effects their lives. From this perspective, even cultural sentiments
which might foster racial hostility toward Obama from some senior citizens
or anger over the impression that the anti-war movement is either anti-
military or unpatriotic will likely not be significant enough to repair
McCain's deficit. Though McCain is likely to fare far better amongst
seniors than amongst most other demographic groups, a block which might
usually be seen as a guarantee for a man of the Republican candidate's
advanced age is today fully in play.
This discussion offers clear evidence that senior citizens tend to
culturally and politically trend toward the right. And in the past, where
Democratic candidates have appeared to champion something of a more
centrist or conservative platform-such as was at least rhetorically the
position with Clinton and Gore-the elderly have responded with strong
support and an unparalleled voter turnout. In the case of this election,
it cannot be said that Obama resonates with the conservative or the
centrist. Instead, he does largely come armed with a progressive policy
approach that is typically alienating or intimidating to older voters. But
America's recent struggles have highlighted the fears of so many senior
citizens who have watched social security funds dwindle, who have seen
healthcare and drug plans…[continue]

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