Older voters pivotal in election

SMU political scientist Dennis Simon says that older voters will have a significant influence on the outcome of the presidential election because a higher percentage of them vote.

The Dallas Morning News

The most important voters in close races are the ones that candidates can count on to show up on Election Day – and seniors may just become the new "soccer moms" in this presidential election.

 Older Americans have the highest turnout rate of any age group – 69 percent in 2004. And they'll wield clout in this tight presidential contest because a number of the swing states, like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, have a lot of older residents. . .

Mr. Obama is up against the growing number of older Republican voters, said Dennis Simon, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

Seniors who came of age in the Roosevelt era are fading away and being replaced by those who formed their political opinions during the Eisenhower years, he said.

"Your political identity is often influenced by the political figures who dominated the period when you began to follow politics," Dr. Simon said. "The FDR generation is dying off and being eclipsed by the 'I Like Ike' generation." . . .

As to the race question, SMU's Mr. Simon said it's difficult to gauge whether Mr. Obama's African-American roots influence older white voters' thinking.

"Given the public's lack of confidence in the economy, you'd expect the Democratic candidate to enjoy a big lead in the polls, but it's not there," he said. "I don't know if it's because of Mr. Obama's race or his level of experience."

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