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Older Voters Give Santorum a Lift in Louisiana

Posted By Election 2012 On March 25, 2012 @ 10:00 am In Washington Watch | Comments Disabled

Candidates, take note: Boomers are an enormous part of the presidential electorate and can play a pivotal role in who gets the nomination and wins a trip to – or back to – the White House.

In Louisiana, just about half (49 percent) of the voters in yesterday’s Republican primary voters were 45 to 64 years old, according to exit polls. Another 26 percent of the voters were 65 or older, putting the contest firmly in the hands of older voters.

Louisiana went, as expected, to Rick Santorum, who won with 49 percent of the GOP vote. Mitt Romney finished with 27 percent – far behind Santorum but enough to give him a share of Louisiana’s 46 delegates (20 of which, under state rules, were up for grabs in the primary). Newt Gingrich took 16 percent, a disappointing showing for a candidate whose strength is in his native South, and Ron Paul took 6 percent.

As in other contests, 50-and-older voters tended to go with the winner, delivering strong showings for Santorum. But Romney - who is way ahead in the delegate race and has fared better than his rivals with 50+ voters in other primaries - beat the spread slightly in Louisiana, suggesting that he has a particular strength among older voters. Among 50- to 64-year-old GOP voters in Louisiana, for example, Santorum took 47 percent of the vote and Romney 31 percent Рa margin six points narrower that his overall victory. Among voters 65 and older, the trend was similar: Santorum took 46 percent and Romney 29 percent.

In a close election, a few percentage points can make a crucial difference. It’s especially true in the general election, where the electoral votes in each state are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. Louisiana’s turnout results indicate that older voters could well be the deciders. - Susan Milligan


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