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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama and the senior vote



There is no more reliable set of voters than seniors 65 and over, and it's also the only age group Barack Obama lost four years ago. SO where does the president stand with seniors heading toward November? On shaky, but not insurmountable terrain, according to recent focus groups conducted in Tampa and Michigan by the Republican public opinion research firm Resurgent Republic.

These voters are highly skeptical about the health care overhaul, deeply anxious about the economy, and disappointed the president hasn't delivered the change they expected. At the same time, they personally like Obama, see him as trying to fix things in a dysfunctional Washington, and that he inherited a mess. Some of the findings:

• With few exceptions, these seniors were satisfied with their current health care coverage and nervous about changing what is perceived as a good thing.
• These seniors recalled few specifics of ObamaCare. Recall of what is in the legislation ranges from very fuzzy to non-existent. However, when reminded, they did express negative reactions to specific features like the individual mandate, Independent Payment Advisory Board, and Medicare cuts.
• Seniors tended to cite the “wars” as more of a leading cause of the nation’s escalating debt crisis than entitlement spending.
• Since many of these voters have a fixed income, they were acutely aware of changes in home values and everyday costs (i.e., health care, food, and gas prices).
Groups in both Florida and Michigan expressed deep concern regarding the current state of the economy. Overall these seniors perceive the economy as “bad,” “struggling,” and even “worse than what they’re saying.” They expressed optimism about recent stock market improvements, but there was little faith their investment portfolios would return to prerecession levels. According to one respondent in Grand Rapids, she “will never live long enough to get back what was lost in stocks and bonds.” Many referenced how their grandchildren are experiencing a difficult time finding quality jobs, which also led to questions about the level of job training today. In comparing the two locations, the Grand Rapids respondents were cautiously optimistic about the local economy, citing construction and housing market improvements, while the Tampa respondents noted their housing market was worse than the national average. In gauging the economy, both groups are watching the
job market, real estate, health care costs, and gas and
food prices.

The full memo is attached.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 6:40am]


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