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Will older voters drift away from GOP in 2014 mid-term elections?

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Widely-respected political analyst Charlie Cook SEES HINTS of a shift among America’s older voters:

Democrats are closely watching the voting pattern of older Americans, a group that voted heavily Republican in the 2010 midterm and, to a lesser extent, in 2012; in March and July surveys, older voters’ responses are showing only about half the GOP margin they voted last November and about a quarter of the Republican margin in the 2010 midterm election. It’s unclear what exactly is going on, but this formerly strong Democratic group had moved pretty heavily against Democrats and Obama since he took office. Some signs indicate, however, this trend could be diminishing somewhat. And because older voters tend to vote in disproportionately higher numbers in midterm elections, any changes could be important.

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The possibility of a shift among older voters is something to be watched carefully. Exit polls show that in the 2010 GOP wave election, seniors voted by a 21-point margin in favor of Republicans for Congress, 59 percent to 38 percent; in 2012, a better year for Democrats, seniors voted Republican by just a 12-point margin, 56 percent to 44 percent. A January poll by Greenberg’s firm showed a similar 11-point Republican margin, but a survey in March indicated the GOP advantage had dropped to only 6 points, 47 percent to 41 percent. This new survey pegged it at 5 points, 46 percent to 41 percent. It is far too early to point to some seismic shift among older voters, but this is something that should be watched over the next 15 months.

The summer of an odd-numbered year is usually too soon to start drawing conclusions about the political environment, but it is the time to start watching for patterns that might emerge as we get closer to the election year. It’s clear that both sides have a lot of work to do before they get an outcome they could really like—that either Democrats could win the House or Republicans could win the Senate.

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