THEY ALREADY HAVE THEIR CARE…. The CNN poll released yesterday found that 50% of Americans support President Obama’s health care reform plan, while 45% are opposed. There was, however, a generational divide.

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

I had the same reaction Josh Marshall did.

It’s an interesting number since — not to put too fine a point on it — people over 50 are disproportionately people who already have guaranteed single-payer government health care. Why that would be is a whole other question in itself. 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.

However that may be, as Brian Beutler points out in this post from earlier this afternoon, this division is not lost on congressional Republicans. Rep. Boehner is looking to elderly voters as key allies in opposing health care reform, using the argument that funding reform for the whole population will lead to draconian cuts to Medicare.

Boehner is presumably not mentioning the longstanding Republican desire to privatize and eventually abolish Medicare. But then again, as I suggested, I’m not sure this is really about health care at all.

It’s a strategy with multiple angles, isn’t it? Republican leaders and their allies have been reduced to lying to seniors, telling them, among other things, that the federal government might try to kill them if Democrats successfully pass health care reform. After a concerted effort to scare the bejesus out of older Americans, those who enjoy and appreciate government-run health care are expressing their opposition to anything resembling government-run health care.

That these voters are listening to the same GOP leaders who support cutting Medicare and privatizing Social Security is a point that seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

But stepping back, it’s also worth noting that Republicans are targeting older voters in part because other age groups are moving away from the GOP. On Election Day, Obama defeated McCain by huge margins among voters under the age of 40; tied McCain with voters 40 to 64; and lost badly among those 65 and older.

Maybe the GOP is looking for a sympathetic constituency, and Medicare-loving seniors offer some glimmer of hope?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.