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Opening Arguments

A senior shift

It's a political truism that the natural tendency is to gradually become more conservative as we get older. So this, from the Gallup people, probably shouldn't surprise me, but it does:

U.S seniors -- those aged 65 and older -- have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010.

In 1992, 53% of senior citizens, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned Democratic, while 39% identified as Republicans or leaned Republican, resulting in a 14-percentage-point Democratic advantage in seniors' party affiliation. Last year, 48% of seniors identified as or leaned Republican, and 45% Democratic, a three-point Republican advantage. The full 1992-2013 party affiliation trends for seniors and younger Americans are shown on page 2.

The reason I'm a little puzzled is that a lot of seniors become dependent on Social Security and Medicare, and the Democratic Party is more identified with such programs than the GOP. Or maybe their thinking is more sophisticated than I give them credit for.

The story notes that "the changes in seniors' party preferences are attributable in part to attitudinal change among today's seniors as they have aged." But it doesn't say what that attitudinal change is.