Older Voters Look Beyond Medicare, Social Security

A small group of senior citizens
Associated Press SHARE

But in competitive states that could determine the election's outcome, seniors' attitudes are on the move. Over the past month, Obama has climbed 9 points in Florida and 4 points in Ohio, giving him an edge over Romney in both states, according to a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll. It's the opposite in Pennsylvania, where Obama has lost his edge among seniors and now trails Romney 45-50.

Older voters will make up a dramatically larger part of the population in the coming decades, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences. Americans are living longer, working longer and waiting until later in life to have children.

In the near term, that shift may work in Republicans' favor, offsetting some of the boost that Democrats are expected to enjoy from the growing minority population.

Those who witnessed a post-Depression resurgence tend to fondly recall FDR's New Deal and may be more likely to vote Democratic, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. But as time marches on, they'll be replaced by their younger counterparts.

"The ones who came up since then, the so-called 'Silent Generation, has moved more conservative on fiscal issues," said Frey. They came into their own in the 1950s and 1960s, saved their money and want to know those savings will still be there when it's time to draw them out.

Their children, the baby boomers, are more fragmented when it comes to their financial situations and living arrangements. Many had fewer children than their parents' generation and now, facing retirement, have less support from their sons and daughters. Some have solid pensions and are in good shape. Still others are female heads of household with little savings.

And for many of those who grew up in an America marked by the turbulence of World War II, global unrest and anti-American rage may be all the more disconcerting.

"I used to be proud to be an American," said Diane Fritz, a 69-year-old Romney supporter from Port Charlotte, Fla. "We don't even look like we're a strong country anymore."

Barbara Kelleher, 66, an Obama supporter, put it another way:

"Suddenly you think, 'What's going to happen and how is this going to affect my grandchildren's future?'" said Kelleher, of Loveland, Colo. "You want the world to be a safe place."


Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Eds: The latest installment of Aging America, the joint AP-APME project examining the impact that an aging population will have on society.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.