On the eve of this 2008 election, I am very curious to see one thing (aside from the results): the senior citizen turnout. I've been thinking about it a lot in the past few months. Historically, this age group, rapidly expanding in range and overall number, can be counted on to vote in high percentages. But what happens when their main choices advertise themselves as the Democratic Candidate for Change and the Republican Candidate for Change? Where does that leave the (large) portion of the electorate that is most resistant to change?
Last summer my father's Medicare provider switched to Humana, and we attended an introductory seminar. Despite the company's repeated assurances that nothing would change, at least for the rest of the year, you could tell from their continued line of questions that the audience members felt alarmed and betrayed by the company switch. (We kept quiet.) Just receiving an insurance card with a new company name on it made them extremely nervous. So they attended these meetings and had their questions addressed, but were still uneasy.
Now, these seniors may be as representative of their age group as I am of mine -- which is to say, not very much -- but they inspired me to think a little about how both major party candidates may very well scare the crap out of them. They don't want change. Not even a little bit. Change confuses and frightens them. They are the Unfrozen Caveman demographic, trapped in a mindset of an earlier time we can't revisit: definitely concerned, probably intelligent, not always well-informed. Most will vote according to established party affiliation, but they can't feel as included this time.
I suspect the big story this week -- other than the winners -- is the intertwined successes of the youth movement and the early voting period in many states. And maybe that deserves to be the big story, if it happens. But I think it's also important to see if the senior vote was not as reliable this year because they were taken for granted, and if the losing candidate will see that exclusion as a campaign misstep.