Are older voters as angry as they were in 2010, when they formed the backbone of the Tea Party?
Listening to an NPR report from a debate-watching party in Oracle, Ariz., on Feb. 20, you might not think so. At least not at first.
Fifteen members of the Saddlebrooke Republican Club gathered in their retirement community, which, according to the developer’s website, offers “a country club lifestyle that can best be described as breathtaking.” The partiers weren’t really representative of today’s GOP electorate: Nine were for Mitt Romney, and six were for Newt Gingrich. None supported Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, even though Santorum was surging in Arizona polls.
Members of the group floated various explanations for their disconnect with the polls, including lack of confidence in their accuracy.
Perhaps most surprising was an unidentified woman’s opinion that Santorum comes across as too angry.
Too angry? Sure, Santorum manages to muster up plenty of righteous indignation. But his fuming pales in comparison to the venom that many older Americans dished out at health care reform town halls and tea parties in 2010.
But before you jump to the conclusion that older America is mellowing, consider this: Everyone at the Saddlebrooke party agreed that they hate — their word — the president.
“I’m almost 80 years old,” Larry Stinson told NPR, “and I tell you what, I’m totally at the point where I’d like to leave this country if the sucker gets back in. It won’t happen. But honestly, I think he’s destroying this country.”
Even with polls showing increasing confidence in both the economy and the direction of the country, the mood in Oracle makes it clear that many older Americans haven’t regained their footing in a world that’s changed too much for their liking. — Kim Keister