With courage, Democrats can still win with seniors

It’s old hat by now that Republicans have the market on the senior vote cornered. Between a steady leftward wind on most social issues and trumped up fears over the impact of the ACA on Medicare, the GOP has made strong inroads with older Americans that spell danger and distress for Democrats in midterm elections.

Even so, a new poll indicates that Democrats could gain back much of that ground by proposing expansions to Social Security:

Voters say they would reward their member of Congress if they voted to increase benefits. Sixty-three (63) percent say they are more likely to vote for their member of Congress if they voted for increasing Social Security benefits, while 16 percent say they are less likely and 21 percent say it makes no difference.

Joan McCarter has a good roundup of how that would affect some of the country’s tightest Senate races. It looks pretty good.

It’s true that any candidate making such a proposal would get hit with deficit hysteric attacks. But those attacks are an omnipresent part of Republican messaging, anyway. Plus, Democratic candidates pushing for Social Security expansion can make the math work a number of different ways by eliminating a variety of corporate welfare giveaways similar to those in recent Congressional Progressive Caucus budgets.

The GOP has a glass jaw on the senior vote that Democrats haven’t begun to exploit. It’s frankly an untenable position for Republicans to be claiming that the ACA steals money from Medicare, while simultaneously trying to cut Medicare and Social Security in the form of “entitlement reform.” If Democrats push for increases to Social Security payments while pushing for higher taxes on the wealthy and an end to corporate giveaways, it could make life very difficult for Republicans with the voting bloc they depend upon most.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.