The Generational Divide

August 5, 2009 12:59 p.m.

CNN released a poll this morning showing that 50% of Americans support President Obama’s health care plan while 45% oppose it. On a challenge this big those actually aren’t bad numbers, though the intensity does seem to be leaning toward the opposition.

But the more interesting numbers were below the toplines.

There’s a generational divide hovering around the age of 50, with most people younger than 50 supporting the president and those over 50 opposing him.It’s an interesting number since — not to put too fine a point on it — people over 50 are disproportionately people who already have guaranteed single-payer government health care. Why that would be is a whole other question in itself. But my sense is that this is less a matter of experiences with health care per se than it is a ‘mapping’ onto the health care debate of the generational divide that characterized the 2008 election.

However that may be, as Brian Beutler points out in this post from earlier this afternoon, this division is not lost on congressional Republicans. Rep. Boehner is looking to elderly voters as key allies in opposing health care reform, using the argument that funding reform for the whole population will lead to draconian cuts to Medicare.

Boehner is presumably not mentioning the longstanding Republican desire to privatize and eventually abolish Medicare. But then again, as I suggested, I’m not sure this is really about health care at all.

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