In a few short weeks he’s gone from unflappable front-runner to flipflopping stammerer, forced to play defense for the first time while Hillary’s going all out on offense.
The “black leaders” are starting to turn on him (see this CC post for more) as they start to realize the damage that could be done if a black man is actually elected president (see this CC post for more). The Dem leadership is starting to grow uncomfortable as he closes in to the needed delegate count, squirming in their chairs as they realize that his race will play an issue no matter how badly they hoped it would not.
But a disturbing pattern is also arising, one that is really making the Dems sit up and take notice and could be an issue that will turn the tide for Hillary and one that will be a huge issue against McCain if Barack is indeed the Dem candidate. That pattern is that Barack has no traction amongst the elderly.
Strange point? Actually, not at all. Most of us “young-ens” tend to dismiss the elderly vote, considering them to be tertiary players and not a big influence, but that idea is dead wrong. Our elderly vote with a lights-out consistency. You can count on them to do their part and if a candidate ignores them, it’s his or her ass.
Of the 62 million or so elderly citizens (age 55+) in the US, 76% of them are registered to vote and in 2004, 71% actually voted in the presidential election. That makes them the most active group in the nation. Barack’s answer to this, of course, is the youth vote, but any seasoned political strategist, pundit, commentator or even casual observer of the political process will tell you that relying on the youth to vote is like relying on me to be at your house to help you move. i.e. Don’t count on it.
In ’04, of the 57 million citizens age 18-34, only 61% were registered to vote and barely 51% showed up on election day. Uh oh. P Diddy may be out there hollerin’ for everyone to “Vote Or Die” but apparently, death isn’t really that big of a deal because they certainly aren’t voting. Barack can’t count on the young, so he’s gotta go for the old. And the old don’t really seem to like him much.
At this point in the game, Barack’s performance with the elderly is almost ridiculous. He’s getting beat 2-1 in some cases (Hillary won 72% of the elderly in Ohio). It’s not even close. Granted, the old folks love their Clintons and McCain is no Bill, but I’ll tell you what McCain is: 71 years old and a war veteran.
Now, I’m not saying that the elderly folks of the USA are stubborn, but try changing the Sunday meal from meatloaf to pizza and see what happens. Complete fucking meltdown. Now tell me with a straight face that an elderly voter is going to openly embrace Barack Obama over a guy who is their age? The elderly did lean toward Bill Clinton more than their age-group candidate, Bob Dole, but can anyone tell me the big difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? Bill, with his white hair and charm wasn’t exactly out of their comfort zone. I’m not sure the same can be said for Senator Obama.
So, not unlike many of the folks who write here, I’m definitely of the mindset that John McCain beats Obama, but as the realities of BO’s shortcomings become more apparent, I wouldn’t necessarily bet the farm that that particular showdown will come to pass.