Susan Milligan is visiting six Election 2012 battleground states to talk with 50-plus voters for a report that will be published in the September issue of the AARP Bulletin. She posted this from a career fair in Independence, Ohio.
A lot of middle-aged Ohioans are looking for jobs. While things here are better than they were — the unemployment rate statewide was 7.5 percent in March, down from a high of 10.6 percent in late 2009 — the people I met here have different ideas of who’s to blame for the high unemployment rate.
Mostly, though, the angst and anger are pointed toward Washington, and, especially, toward lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “These guys are fighting a lot about things,” Kimberly Ramsey, 51, told me as she filled out a job application.
Ohio is a critical battleground state in the fall elections (a new poll shows President Obama and Mitt Romney in a virtual tie in a dozen swing states, including Ohio), and while the folks here seem divided on their top-of-the-ticket preferences, they are almost uniformly disgusted at Congress’s inability to get things done.
Take, for example, Harvey Williams, 65, of Strongsville, Ohio. He summed up his dissatisfaction with Washington by repeating the message on a neighbor’s sign: “Politicians are like bedbugs. They’re in bed with everybody.”
This was a voice applied to what the Gallup poll-takers have been finding for nearly a year now — namely, that older voters (those 55 and older) have a dimmer view of Congress than younger voters. Last July, Congress’s approval rating with older voters dipped into single digits and has stayed there since.
Many of the people I talked with in Independence are looking for new lines of work, discouraged by the job market for their first-chosen fields. It seems clear that they’d like Capitol Hill lawmakers to consider doing the same thing. —Susan Milligan