Older voters. What do they know?
More than younger voters, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. On nearly every of a dozen questions the center posed to registered voters, people 50 and older answered correctly more often than 18- to 34-year-olds.
Voters 50 and older did best in knowing basic facts about the White House and the presidential candidates. A full 87 percent, for example, could identify Joe Biden as the sitting vice president. Two-thirds of 50-plus voters (67 percent) knew that Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, compared with just 43 percent of younger voters. Similarly, 78 percent of older voters knew that President Obama used to be a U.S. senator from Illinois, compared with 61 percent of younger voters.
Things got a little tougher for interviewees when it came to the candidates’ positions on the issues, and older voters tended to be more aware of Obama’s positions than Romney’s. Strong majorities knew, for example, that Obama wants to increase taxes on people making $250,000 or more, and that he wants to allow the children of undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status here. But fewer knew that Romney opposes gay marriage and abortion rights.
Still, on topics in the news, 50-plus voters didn’t fare so well. Fewer than half of them knew that John Roberts is chief justice of the Supreme Court (even though he made news recently for writing the ruling upholding the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), or that Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives (even though party fights have dominated news from the chamber), or that “Super PACs” are having a big impact this election year (even though the groups, and their deep-pocketed donors, are constantly in the news). Older voters, nonetheless, scored higher than younger ones on those topics.
(How much do you know? You can find out by taking Pew’s interactive “News IQ Quiz.”)
Age may or may not bring wisdom. But at least it seems to bring knowledge. —Susan Milligan