While senior voters were nearly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats during the 2008 presidential election, there has been a "striking" shift toward the GOP in recent months, said Tom Jensen, communications director at Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, N.C.
A poll two weeks ago found Republicans winning on a generic ballot among seniors, after recent polling had found that 46 percent of seniors identify themselves as Republicans, 33 percent as Democrats and 22 percent as independents. "Almost every poll we do when we break it down by age, President Obama is least popular with seniors. That is definitely the age group that he is having the most problem with," Mr. Jensen said. "If not for those senior citizens, Democrats would have the lead on a generic ballot. But overall, American voters say 45 to 41 that they will vote Republican next year and it's the seniors who are making that happen.
What is fueling this shift? Obamacare has been turning off seniors for the past few months ever since Obama started pushing his health care plan, and the left-leaning AARP has been paying the price for the seniors' move to the GOP.
With 2010 inching closer, this will become a problem for Democrats, especially those in more moderate districts:
"What makes it even a bigger implication for the midterm elections is because seniors cast a much larger percentage of votes in midterms than they do in presidential years," he said. "Not only are they leaning more Republican these days but they are also likely to be a much bigger slice of the electorate in 2010 than they were in 2009."
Indeed, while seniors historically vote in full force in midterm elections, President Obama's administration will find itself struggling to deal with this class of voters in 2010, said Andrea Campbell, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has written about senior political engagement.