With the Presidential election only months away, both candidates are looking for ways to swing voters to their side. Despite the different reasons and issues out there, the following example could spell victory or defeat for each candidate. In York, Pennsylvania, Jack Ireton-Hewitt is volunteering in his first campaign. The 74 year-old is walking door to door and manning an information booth at a county fair to help elect Republican Mitt Romney president. Try as he may, the retired manufacturing executive has failed to persuade two people close to home: His granddaughters, ages 19 and 21. For Obama and Romney, conquering the generation gap could be the key to be President in 2013.
In a national USA TODAY/Gallup poll, most 65-and-older seniors support Romney while young adults under 30 back Obama by almost 2-1. The difference (18-percentage-points) is one of the electorate’s largest demographic divides and helps set the stage for campaign strategies for both sides. For Obama, the divide could benefit Romney if history repeats itself. Though the enthusiasm of the Millennial Generation helped fuel Obama’s election victory in 2008, some of the younger voters may not feel the same way. For those 65 and older, they are more engaged than in the 2008 election and will most likely show up at the polls to vote for Romney.
This gap could not only decide who the next President is but determine which direction our country’s policy will follow. Debates would concentrate on Social Security and Medicare spending for one side of the gap while concentrating on investment in education and priority on environment for the other side.
When looking at the focus of each generation, it tends to, on some levels, reflect the changing face of America; especially when it comes to ethnicity and race. Among seniors and those under 30 who were surveyed, 16% of seniors were Hispanic or racial minorities. Those under 30 had their proportions nearly triple to 45%. Also, younger Americans overwhelmingly assess the nation’s growing diversity as a good thing rather than a bad thing, by 56%-32%. However, seniors are inclined to see it as a bad thing for the country, by 44%-39%.
Another issue/opinion that is part of the divide is the role of government. Many seniors do not agree with how the government is approaching restoring the vitality of the economy. Two-thirds of seniors say government is doing too much and should take a step back to leave it up to businesses and individuals; roughly one in four say the opposite and that government is doing too little to solve the country’s problem. For those younger than 30, the divide is much closer, 52%-47%, between those who say government is doing too much or too little.
The fear of change is usually found in seniors more than in those 30 and younger. Try teaching a senior something that has to do with technology and watch most cringe. Do the same with someone 30 or younger and it will be met with enthusiasm and a smile. The same goes with government when something that has been around for years, even decades and then offers a change that is meant as a benefit to others. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who studies generational differences, tends to feel race does not play much of a role in the divide. “I hate to use the word racially motivated; I don’t think that’s it,” he says. “It’s a fear of change and an unfamiliar change in a bad economy.” That’s one reason the new health care law is viewed with such suspicion by seniors.” Change will play a big role on the campaign trail and the candidate who is able to change the divide in his favor will be President in 2013.
Obama, Romney Gender Gap
New polling numbers from The Washington Post and ABC News show that the gender gap has narrowed significantly. The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez describes the factors at play for the Obama and Romney campaigns.