Thursday, August 06, 2009


A number of people are talking about this result in the latest CNN poll:

"Obama's plan is most popular among younger Americans and least popular among senior citizens," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "A majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama's plan; a majority of those under 50 support it."

Josh Marshall and Steve Benen make the obvious point that seniors already have single-payer socialized medicine (and think it's just fine and dandy, but can easily be scared into thinking that they could lose it, or that it could be drastically altered).

However, Josh also says (and Steve agrees with this):

But my sense is that this is less a matter of experiences with health care per se than it is a 'mapping' onto the health care debate of the generational divide that characterized the 2008 election.

As Matt Yglesias notes, seniors didn't like Obama much (and younger people did, of course):

But here's the thing: Bill Clinton's health plan faced the same resistance among the elderly -- even though senior citizens had been the age group most favorable to him in 1992:

Despite those election results, when the health-care push began, Clinton lost seniors, according to a recent New Republic article by Stan Greenberg, who polled for the Clinton White House (and did some new polling on the issue this spring):

One of the reasons the Clinton health care plan failed was the resistance of key groups. Seniors couldn't see what was in it for them, even though the president reassured them Medicare would be protected, buttressed by a new prescription-drug benefit. They believed that this vast new commitment to health care spending would erode support for their own care.

It may surprise you that Obama has already lost seniors, according to our current survey--only one-third approve of his plan. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see there isn't much in it for them.

So, yeah, for seniors it's about the fact that they've got what they need. It's unlikely to be a reflection of the election results.

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