Seniors' support for the GOP is sliding

This key donor group is increasingly disillusioned with Republicans, and that could hurt fundraising efforts.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 12, 2013 12:44PM

Image: Group of older people seated © Image Source, Getty ImagesA sea change is apparently going on in the gray-haired set, with many turning sharply against the Republican Party, the Carville-Greenberg Memo reports.

That may spell trouble for the GOP's coffers, given that AARP cardholders have been reliable supporters and are more active donors than younger voters. But last month, just 28% of seniors said they view Republicans favorably, down from 43% in 2011, wrote Erica Seifert, a senior associate at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. 

That may have big implications on the budgets of GOP candidates. After all, 27% of seniors say they've made a political contribution, more than any other age group, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The shift started in summer 2011, when Paul Ryan, R-Wis., touted a plan to privatize Medicare, Seifert wrote. 

"Since then, the Republican Party has come to be defined by much more than its desire to dismantle Medicare. To voters from the center right to the far left, the GOP is now defined by resistance, intolerance, intransigence, and economics that would make even the Robber Barons blush," she noted. (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research includes Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg as its chief executive.)

More than half of seniors now say the Republican Party is too extreme on issues such as gay rights and providing aid to the poor, the poll found. 

That should have Republicans worried as they near the 2014 midterm elections. 

"I don't think any Republican pollster who's looking at the numbers is sanguine about the state of the Republican brand at this point," Republican pollster Whit Ayres told The Atlantic. "You are going to see the impact of the damaged brand in every demographic group."

Still, more seniors say they'll vote Republican than Democrat, at 46% to 41%. But that's a smaller gap than in 2010, when 59% of seniors voted for the GOP and more than 33% backed the Democrats. 

In the 2011-12 election cycle, the GOP enjoyed a slight fundraising edge, counting more than 550,000 individual donors to the Democrats' 513,000 donors, according to

If seniors continue to turn against the GOP, those dollars might stop flowing toward Republican candidates. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

More on moneyNOW

Aug 12, 2013 1:14PM
It's not just the donations.  The silver set is also the most reliable in terms of actually going to the polls and voting, especially in off-year elections.
Aug 12, 2013 2:50PM
  ARRP has been slapping seniors in the backside and damaging their wallets for a lone time now. Their pretty much just insurance brokers and get paid well for it. They fought against medivantage polices, witch are better an cheaper than medicare and supplemental, cheaper for the seniors and the government, but there insurance company does not have this program. Seniors switch to AMAC, its a better association. I dumped ARRP long ago.
Aug 12, 2013 1:47PM
Don't you dare touch my SS or Medicare you POS RWNJs!
Aug 12, 2013 1:37PM
seniors have always voted in force for their own interests and slow but sure they are discovering that the republican party is a very real danger to these interests
Aug 12, 2013 2:32PM

THRASHERS:This isn`t the Republican party of the Reagan years.He could disagree

without being a nasty SOB.The GOP of this era is bitter,hateful,dishonist and lies

constantly.Reagan would never support Palin and Newt.Rush is the voice of the

GOP today.Have you ever heard Republicans disagree with him?

Aug 12, 2013 4:07PM

You're referencing an article written by JAMES CARVILLE! He's the political operative who invented the campaign slogan "It's the economy, stupid."

Anything written by him is not news; it's campaign literature. Furthermore, the poll was also conducted by Carville (though the link from Carville's article doesn't take you directly to the survey, only the polling website). Following the link and browsing around, I failed to find the right survey. Many polls are push polls designed to elicit the desired result. I cannot be sure this was a push poll but it seems likely.

So, please check to see if the questions used in the survey were reasonable. Also, watch out for the possibility that the survey was just of AARP members instead of the general public.

Aug 12, 2013 4:44PM
Our medicare, medicaid and SS have so much fraud that we are not even budgeting with valid numbers. Our IRS system is a fraud mess too. How come no one want to fix these problems?
Aug 12, 2013 4:29PM
We probably  have conservatives that do not consider themselves Republican. 
Aug 12, 2013 1:56PM
It is interesting that at this point in Bush's administration, 4 years, 8 months,  that Bush was ahead of Obama in the RealClear Polotics average Job Approval Polls...  Funny that's not on the news at all...
Aug 12, 2013 7:04PM

First of all, this so called poll is suspicious. Seniors, including me, know that half a trillion $ will be sucked out of their medicare over 10 years to pay for the beauracrcy being created to adminster ACA, over 110,000 employees among 13 NEW government agencies. These funds are not going to provide care.

Seniors are the ones most often needing so called medical devices and therefore will pay the taxes.

If there is any validity to this poll, seniors are not very well informed or these were people were in advanced staes of aging and likely in assisted care.

Aug 12, 2013 2:12PM
Another hit job by Aimless Aimee!!! lol.  AARP has been another wing of the Left for a couple of decades.  That is why groups like AMAC have sprouted.  What administration just took out over $500 billion from Medicare ---- Answer:  Obama and the Democrats!!  Who is getting hit hardest with Obamacare? -- The Seniors with added taxes on medical devices, increased premiums, etc. etc.  Oh, by the way, who stands to gain a huge benefit from Obamacare?  Of course, that answer is AARP. 
Aug 12, 2013 4:18PM
The 2014 election is better than a year off. I don't really care what the polls say and I have no idea who'll be running in 2016.  Hillary was the odds on favorite in 2008---didn't get through the primaries. We could be into another recession or even a depression by then. When Bill Clinton campaigned for BO, there's no doubt deals were cut. I figure BO will aid in Clinton carrying the minorities should she run? What I know is this. The Dems cut 718 billion from Medicare and Advantage plans to help pay for the ACA. The AARP supported that. I give nothing to AARP political programs of any type. As for this article, wishful thinking Aimee. Nothing but more MSN vote swaying.  
Aug 12, 2013 4:19PM
I am not sure what the Republican party is anymore,  what it stands for other than the far right, and where the solutions to the problems are and how to get there. The old solutions do not  work in a global economy. They just seem to have a lot of nasty foul mouthed people that make no sense.
I left in 2004.
Aug 12, 2013 2:23PM
What turned me against the Republican party is their total unwillingness to compromise.  Their only agenda seems to be to destroy the economy to make the Democrats look bad.  Also, all the Republican solutions are aimed at destroying or weakening pensions, social security, and Medicare.  All of these are sacred to the elderly unless you are wealthy, of course.  Most of us aren't.  
Aug 12, 2013 3:11PM
I don't know anyone enchanted with either main party and most people laugh at the Tea (Guns, Gold and Ammo), Libertarian (argue with us, we're annoying!), Nazi, Green and all the other wastes of time. It all comes down to one thing and one thing only... When America makes PACs, Lobbies and Parties- criminal acts of Terrorism and we start to lift people into candidacy because they might actually have commonsense and a legitimate track record of leadership... then each election just gets worse and worse. What we have here is a failure of a Constitution to do what our Forefathers would have rallied us to do... unclog the Road to Freedom, even if it means turning arrogant bulls into hamburger. No one person can recite ALL of our Laws, if lawmakers can't then we don't need them. Oh, and kill all the lawyers. Every nation needs a united hobby!
Aug 12, 2013 1:58PM

People need to vote for the best person,regardless of party.I walked away from the GOP

in 2004 because of their lies.However, while I agree mostly with Obama,most Democrats

don`t have enough spine for me.

Aug 12, 2013 4:12PM

MIKEINMO:I agree.A conservative would conserve the environment,conserve the military,

conserve natural resourses.Not nation build and drill baby drill.I left the GOP when they

became such a nasty,racist organization with no solutions and blamed everything on the

Dems.Teddy Roosevelt was a conservative.Certainly not Newt,Rush or Palin.

Aug 12, 2013 6:50PM
This is really stupid.  It's Obama and the dims who built cuts into their insidious health care bill and now they have their number one shill the ARP out stumping for them.  Seniors need to get their sh** together.  Dims are not your friends.
Aug 12, 2013 4:27PM
Do people understand some basics? Those on medicaid will not be buying insurance. Medicare covers a portion of health care costs and some seniors have a supplemental while others just rely on Medicaid to pay the rest of the bill. Many wealthy people put their money in a medicare friendly trust and other financial instruments to get out of paying out of pocket.  The wealthy seniors can afford any premium, deductible and max out of pocket. Many of those are the far right Republicans. That is why they are fine with Medicare going away.
Aug 12, 2013 7:19PM
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