Political pundit Charles Cook warns Democrats that 2010 may be the "Year of the Angry White Senior," leading to big Republican gains in midterm congressional elections. His reasoning is that younger voters (particularly those under 30, who went for Barack Obama by almost 2-to-1 last year) and minority voters tend not to bother going to the polls without the dangling carrot of a presidential race:
Put simply, older voters dominate midterms and have consistently been Obama's weakest age group... [M]idterm electorates typically skew older and whiter than those in presidential years.
According to exit poll data, voters over 45 comprised 54 percent of the total electorate in 2004 and just 53 percent of the electorate in 2008, but they were 63 percent of all voters in 2006. And diminished turnout on the part of African-American and Hispanic voters, which was a factor in 1994, looks like a double whammy for Democrats.
Now, an older electorate isn't always deadly for the Democrats. In 2006, there were several states in which Democratic Senate candidates actually did better among older voters (see Minnesota and Ohio) or, at least, suffered no major age gap (see Missouri and Tennessee, the latter contest featuring a black Democratic nominee).
Still, Obama's "change" campaign may well have opened up a generational rift that will continue into next year -- especially now that the GOP is apparently abandoning its historic skepticism toward Medicare and is now arguing that health care for "the greatest generation" is its top priority.
UPDATE: New poll gives the Republican Party a 13-point lead among seniors. (The Democratic Party leads by a single point in the overall population.)