“The polls got it wrong.” We hear this a lot when election outcomes don’t match pre-vote predictions. But what about the exit polls – the Election Day surveys that pollsters and pundits use to tell us what really happened? Turns out, there is a lot those tallies miss – particularly when it comes to older voters.
En español | You may have played dodgeball as a child. If you didn’t, the premise is pretty simple: Dodge any ball that is hurled in your direction while trying to throw balls at other players to knock them out of the game. The last two people in the game usually square off in some form of “chicken,” and the last person standing wins.
It was once accepted conventional wisdom in politics that messing with federal retirement programs would sink a candidate with older voters. Want to win retiree-rich Florida? Then just attack your opponent as a threat to Social Security or Medicare or both. During the 1992 Democratic presidential primary, Bill Clinton took one little paragraph from Paul Tsongas' treatise, "A Call to Economic Arms,'' in which his rival floated the idea of a 1 percent reduction in cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security. Using the passage to portray Tsongas as an enemy of the retired, Clinton succeeded in winning Florida and permanently damaged Tsongas' campaign.
With President Obama holding a narrow lead in the polls and looking to close the sale, and challenger Mitt Romney searching for a game-changing big play, the stakes in this year's presidential debates are probably even higher than usual. The initial debate, which will focus on domestic policy, takes place on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (Eastern Time) in Denver, with PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer moderating. From PBS, here's a preview of the debate.
Republican Mitt Romney routinely edges out President Obama among older voters. Yet in accepting his party's presidential nomination Thursday night, he made only fleeting references to the health and retirement security issues facing older Americans.
The lesson is clear: If you want to win a Republican primary this election season, you'd better make a persuasive case to voters 50 and older - because they're the ones tipping the scales in favor of the winning candidate.
Search AARP Blogs