Grumpy old men. And women. And the grumpitude is a significant challenge to Barack Obama’s candidacy.
Bill Clinton was younger than Obama is now, in 1992, but that was a different generation of over-65 people.
Clinton spoke to that age group about what they cared about most, Social Security, and in so doing secured their votes.
It was prior to the age of the Internet, and it was a different generation of young voting age kids, who, in the main after growing up in the vacant era of Reagan and George II, were apathetic.
Nobody bothered speaking to that age group, because they simply weren’t paying attention anyway.
Now, the new, “millennial” generation of today’s young people are paying attention, and it’s Sen. Obama to whom they are paying all that attention, to an extent that the current generation of post-65 grumpy voters apparently finds off-putting.
After all, how good can anything or anyone be if kids favor it. I hate their music, their movies, their clothing, their refusal to act their age. So I guess I hate their presidential candidate.
In a Changing Corner of Pa., a Glimpse of Obama’s Age Problem
By Alec MacGillis | Washington Post Staff Writer | Tuesday, August 12, 2008; Page A04
If the senator from Illinois is going to achieve his goal of bridging the nation’s divides, he is going to have to overcome a generation gap with older voters unlike any such split a Democratic presidential nominee has faced in years.
Even as younger voters are showing signs of breaking with years of lackluster turnout to support him, Obama is facing singular resistance from voters over 65. That age group turns out at the highest rate on Election Day and is disproportionately represented in the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania; Bill Clinton and Al Gore both relied on it in winning the Democrats’ only popular-vote majorities of the past two decades.
With polls showing Obama dominating among those under 40 and running even among middle-aged voters, Republican John McCain‘s lead among those 65 and older is the main reason he remains close overall. His margin is largest among older white voters without a college education, accounting for much of Obama’s problem with the white working class.
The pre-Boomer people the Post illustrate in this anecdotal story are apparently in tune with John McCain’s near Ludditude, or so they say.
But, that’s not all of them. My 81-year old mother, gamely insisting on living alone while dealing with her life threatening disease, tackles the on-line world every day; it’s baffling, but she handles its daffy complexity and accomplishes what she needs to. But, of course, she’s not from Snake’s Navel, Florida.
So, white haired, occasionally forgetful John McCain is, because of his own rather advanced age, someone the pre-Boomer generation has come to know during his more than25 years in public life.
They believe that they understand him, and, due to his war record, they respect him. Their own memories apparently allow them to gloss over such unpleasantness as alcohol, adultery and savings and loan scandals.
Obama, conversely, is an entirely new phenomenon in American public life, and literally foreign to their experience.
Calling oneself a “citizen of the world” might well play better in Berlin, Germany than in Paris, Pennsylvania.
And, of course, he’s entirely too new.
Too well-liked among young people, many of whose cultural and life choices are so alien to a way of life they treasure, even as it fades away with them.
Probably, although most will be too embarrassed to speak it out loud, too black.
Thus, the challenge for Obama’s campaign. Not his age, but how all of his differences jar the presidential expectations of the pre-Boomer generation, that segment of voters most likely to vote, especially dangerous to his candidacy in states like Pennsylvania and Florida where they make up a large segment of the electorate.
One can only assume, or hope, that Obama’s campaign is working on this challenge, or has factored out that over-65 crowd in their electoral college calculations, in favor of the multitudes of the unapathetic Millennials.
Those enthusiastic multitudes had better put their votes where their voices, and their dollars, have been.
It’s it for now. Thanks,