Trump Faces Mounting Defections From a Once-Loyal Group: Older White Voters
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2020-06-28 22:13:23 UTC

Clifford Wagner, an 80-year-old Republican in Tucson, Arizona, never cared for President Donald Trump.

He supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential primary race and cast a protest vote in the general election for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee. An Air Force veteran, Wagner described the Trump presidency as a mortifying experience: His friends in Europe and Japan tell him the United States has become “the laughingstock of the world.”

This year, Wagner said he would register his opposition to Trump more emphatically than he did in 2016. He plans to vote for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and hopes the election is a ruinous one for the Republican Party.

“I’m a Christian, and I do not believe in the hateful, racist, bigoted speech that the president uses,” Wagner said, adding, “As much as I never thought I’d say this, I hope we get a Democratic president, a Democratic-controlled Senate and maintain a Democratic-controlled House.”

Wagner is part of one of the most important maverick voting groups in the 2020 general election: conservative-leaning seniors who have soured on the Republican Party over the past four years.

Republican presidential candidates typically carry older voters by solid margins, and in his first campaign Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 7 percentage points with voters over 65. He won white seniors by nearly triple that margin.

Today, Trump and Biden are tied among seniors, according to a poll of registered voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. And in the six most important battleground states, Biden has established a clear upper hand, leading Trump by 6 percentage points among the oldest voters and nearly matching the president’s support among whites in that age group.

That is no small advantage for Biden, the former vice president, given the prevalence of retirement communities in a few of those crucial states, including Arizona and Florida.

No Democrat has won or broken even with seniors in two decades, since Al Gore in 2000 devoted much of his general election campaign to warning that Republicans would cut popular programs like Social Security and Medicare. In 2016, Trump, now 74, seemed in some ways keenly attuned to the political sensitivities of voters in his own age group. As a candidate, he bluntly rejected his party’s long-standing interest in restructuring government ...( Cont)
2020-06-28 22:50:51 UTC
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