Sandy Johnson is a journalist equally addicted to politics and gardening. Follow her on Twitter @sandykjohnson

Curveball: Older Voters in S.C. Swoon for Gingrich

The first three Republican presidential primaries have split 1-1-1. Rick Santorum won Iowa (after the vote was certified), Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, and now Newt Gingrich has won South Carolina. More than six in 10 voters in Saturday’s primary were age 50 and older, and their support of Gingrich helped propel the former House Speaker to a stunning victory in the Palmetto State. Gingrich carried all 30-and-older age groups, including the oldest voters who had sided with Romney in …

Big Money Taints the Political Process

Older Americans frown on the influence of big money on the presidential campaign. By overwhelming majorities, they think limiting the amount of money campaigns can spend would improve the political process. They say those who pay for attack ads should be publicly disclosed, as should outside groups that spend money on campaigns. They are an idealistic lot. In reality, millions of dollars are flooding into primary states to buy negative TV ads, finance suspicious robo-calls and pay for misleading mail …

Nailing Down the Candidates on Social Security, Medicare

Where do the Republican candidates stand on Social Security and Medicare? The answer is important, because the next president – Democrat or Republican – will inherit the call for changes in those programs to whittle federal spending. On such controversial subjects, pinning down exactly where the candidates stand isn’t always easy. Newt Gingrich, for example, initially dismissed Rep. Paul Ryan’s dramatic reform proposals as “right-wing social engineering.” Months later Gingrich unveiled his own plan to revise what he called the …

Warning: Wrenching unemployment in the next primary states

The Republican presidential race has moved away from states with relatively low unemployment – 5.7 percent in Iowa and 5.2 percent in New Hampshire – to states where the hunt for a job is a daily heartache, especially for older workers. Suck in your breath: South Carolina has 9.9 percent unemployment, Florida 10 percent and Nevada 13 percent. Those three states combined have shed more than 1 million jobs since 2008. But even those numbers may understate the problem. “A …

Older voters in New Hampshire close ranks behind Romney

Powered by older voters, Mitt Romney won an unmistakable nod of approval from New Hampshire in the GOP presidential sweepstakes. In a state with a history of primary surprises, the former Massachusetts governor breathed a sigh of relief when the votes were counted. He won 40 percent, comfortably higher than his 31.5 percent showing in 2008 when he was runner-up to John McCain. Fifty-six percent of GOP primary voters were over 50 years old, and 4 in 10 of those …

Older “indies” could be the wild card in New Hampshire

Ah, New Hampshire – home of the flinty independent voter. The “Live free or die” state is one of the few that allows registered “indies” to vote in either the GOP or Democratic presidential primary. But, come next Tuesday, what rational indie would waste a vote in the Democratic primary, a yawner with just President Obama on the ballot, when you could mix things up in the Republican primary? Forty percent of New Hampshire’s registered voters are independent. In a …