Thursday, May 30, 2019

Bernie's Biggest Hurdle: Senior Citizens

As a previous post looked at, many Democrats have worries about nominating a candidate who is "too old."  This is a potential problem for both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, but Sanders seemingly faces the larger hurdle, especially among older voters. As a piece in Politico points out, Sanders' description of himself as a "Democratic Socialist" turns off many older voters.  Then too, there is - at least in my view - Sanders' less than likable personality.  The Sanders campaign knows it has a problem, but to date has been unable to crack Biden's huge lead among older voters who like it or not vote in larger percentages than Millennials and voters under age 45.  Perhaps the debates will change the perception of Sanders, but his age and prickly personality may well continue to plague him regardless of the loyalty of his cult-like supporters.   Here are highlights from Politico:

Bernie Sanders, 77, has a problem with old people.
In poll after poll, he places a distant second behind former Vice President Joe Biden among the senior set, the demographic that has long had more sway over who becomes president than any other. His campaign acknowledges it's a problem and is trying — so far, unsuccessfully — to fix it.
It’s a familiar issue for the septuagenarian senator: In 2016, Sanders won more voters from young people than Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump combined. But Clinton crushed him among older Americans at the ballot box, denying him the nomination.
The possibility of the same weakness thwarting Sanders’ second bid for the White House looms over his campaign. . . . . his aides are optimistic that his plans to expand Social Security and Medicare benefits will help.
But some of the same qualities that have made Sanders a folk hero among millennials could be repelling seniors. His embrace of democratic socialism and calls for a political revolution are likely a tougher sell to many older voters who lived through the Cold War and are generally more conservative. And in a year when Democrats just want to beat President Donald Trump, the Vermont independent is seen by some Democrats as less electable than, say, Joe Biden.
Biden has higher perceptions of electability, and it could be hard to convince people they should be voting for Bernie when they're already familiar with this other guy, and their main concern is getting Trump out of office."
In the latest Morning Consult weekly tracking poll, Sanders leads Biden by 12 points among Democratic primary voters under 30, and Biden has only a 1-point lead among voters aged 30-44. But Biden leads Sanders by 44 points among seniors, 53 percent to 9 percent.
Similarly, a Fox News poll conducted earlier this month showed Biden leading Sanders, 45 percent to 11 percent among Democratic voters older than 45. Among voters younger than that, Sanders was marginally ahead of Biden, 25 percent to 22 percent.
Iowa is a case study of how Sanders’ unpopularity with older voters could haunt him. In 2016, . . . it was his performance among older voters that prevented him from winning Iowa outright: Sanders overwhelmingly won voters under 45, but Clinton drubbed him, 69 percent to 26 percent, among those 65 and older, according to entrance polls.
Part of Sanders’ challenge is persuading elderly voters he can actually win. Larger percentages of older Democrats want a nominee who can defeat Trump — even if they disagree with most of their views — than younger ones, according to a January poll by Monmouth University.
There’s also an ideological hurdle Sanders needs to clear. Older Americans tend to have dimmer views of socialism than people in their 20s and 30s. Sanders, a democratic socialist, has taken pains to explain his ideology, at times by embracing Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Count me among those who do not believe that Sanders can beat Trump.

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