Signs of GOP Erosion Where They Can’t Afford It

There’s a new CNN/ORC poll out today that’s getting some justifiable buzz in that it confirms evidence congressional Republicans were significantly more damaged by the government shutdown/debt default crisis than were Democrats or the president, and also confirms something attentive folk knew: if you add together people who support the Affordable Care Act with those who support something “more liberal” (presumably a single payer system), you’ve got a majority unlikely to support any Republican “alternative” on health care policy.

With midterm elections approaching, I was mainly interested in answering one question: is the much-discussed damage to the GOP “brand” spreading to the older voters most likely to vote on or before November 4, 2014, whose disproportionate 2010 turnout largely created the 2010 Republican landslide?

Sure looks like it, at least for now. On the key question of whether GOP control of the U.S. House of Representatives is a good or bad thing for the country, voters over 65 (who went Republican by a 59/38 margin in 2010 and a 56/44 margin in 2012) said “bad” by a 47/46 margin. More dramatically, those between 50-64 years old said “bad” by a 61/35 margin, a group that went 52/47 Republican in 2012 and 52/46 in 2010. In a comparison of confidence in Obama or “congressional Republicans” to “deal with the problems facing the country,” over-65 votes prefer Obama 45/33, and those 50-64 prefer the president 48/28.

We don’t have access to breakouts by age and race, but it’s likely the erosion of confidence in the GOP is even more dramatic among the older white voters who are that party’s base.

I’ll have a later post about the single-payer fans and their impact on the debate over the Affordable Care Act. But if there is any chance of a truly bad midterm for Republicans in 2014, it will come from losses among us old white folks. Turns out they’re not real fond of fiscal brinkmanship, which might have occurred to Republican leaders going into the crisis they manufactured.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.