Friday, March 1, 2013

Can Hillary win seniors?

So far, 2016 polling is limited and tends to be based on name recognition more than anything else.

But if we know one thing, it's this -- Hillary Clinton could go toe-to-toe with a video of Matthew Crawley and Kate Upton, singing a duet of "God bless the U.S.A". She's just that popular right now.

But beyond the big topline and favorability numbers, here's something you're starting to see in polls that could, potentially, be rough for the GOP in 2016 -- Hillary is awfully popular with senior citizens.

And by that I mean -- in some polls, she sports disproportionately high favorable marks with seniors. In other words, her favorables for seniors are sometimes higher than her favorables for those 30-45 years old or 45-64.

That's a tough development for the GOP, because the party absolutely depends on the senior vote in presidential elections.

To wit:

In 2008, John McCain beat Obama among seniors, 53%-45%. That was the only major age group McCain won.

In 2012, Mitt Romney improved on McCain's score and beat Obama among seniors, 56%/44%. Once again, that was the GOP's strongest age group.

In short, senior citizens are an absolutely crucial bloc for a Republican presidential nominee, and Hillary Clinton tends to be very popular with them.

Below, I take a look at 10 Public Policy Polling surveys to dig into this deeper.

Now PPP is a Democratic firm, but even if you're a skeptic, it's still useful to compare age groups within the PPP polls.

Thus, you can ask the question: Is Hillary performing better with some age groups than she is with other age groups in PPP polls?

Well, based on these ten polls, something interesting is happening.

In southern states like Texas and Louisiana, Hillary does very poorly with seniors. That makes sense. Those states have seen an influx of a lot of blue-state workers, and thus, feelings on Hillary are easy to understand -- they're primarily a proxy for party identification.

But at both the national level and in some states like PPP's Minnesota poll, you see a Hillary who's stronger with seniors than with any other age group except young adults.

Now -- it's always perilous to draw too much from subsamples, but if Hillary truly is disproportionately popular with seniors (or even merely more popular than Obama), the GOP has a big problem and Democrats a big exclamation mark.

Of course, Hillary's popularity WILL fall, and might fall quite dramatically (she was never as popular as portrayed with those outside the Democratic party in 2008).

But her peformance with seniors is something to note. As is this: in 1992, seniors were Bill Clinton's biggest backers.

THE POLLS, in no particular order:

1. PPP National Poll (January 2013).

Head-to-head matchups among senior citizens....

a. Hillary Clinton 45% Chris Christie 37%. Surprisingly, that's larger than her 2% lead with all voters in the poll. Thus, Hillary performs disproportionately well among seniors.

b. Hillary 50% Marco Rubio 38%. That's roughly similar to her lead among other age groups.

c. Hillary 54% Paul Ryan 38%. That 16% lead is slightly larger than her 14% advantage, overall.

Meanwhile, her favorability rating with senior citizens sits at 58%/33%, which is higher than her favorability with any other age group and higher than her 54%/39% favorability, overall.

So, in this case, we see that Hillary is disproportionately popular with senior citizens.

2. Texas poll (January 2013)

Hillary's favorability with older voters is -4%, which is worse than her +2% rating with all age groups. It's also the weakest age group for her.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Rick Perry 48% Hillary 45%.

b. Marco Rubio 52% Hillary 43%.

c. Chris Christie 46% Hillary 41%.

In each of those head-to-head matchups, Hillary does worse among senior groups than with any other group. Thus, in Texas, the traditional demographic pattern holds -- the older they are, the more Republican they are.

3. Public Policy Polling survey of Florida (January 2013).

In Florida, senior citizens give Hillary her best favorability marks at 53%/37%.

That 16% gap is stronger than her numbers with any other age group.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Hillary Clinton 48% Jeb Bush 46%.

b. Hillary Clinton 51% Marco Rubio 46%. That's roughly similar to her 4% lead, overall.

4. Public Policy Polling national survey (February 2013).

Hillary's favorability with seniors was 43%/45%. That was her worst age group, and fits with the idea that seniors are more likely to look poorly on Democratic candidates. Her major, potential GOP competitors all had stronger favorability numbers than Hillary which fits with history, but not some of this cycle's polls.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Chris Christie 48% Hillary Clinton 42%. The only age group to back Christie over Hillary is the senior vote.

b. Marco Rubio 49% Hillary Clinton 42%. Once again, Hillary wins every age group except this.

c. Paul Ryan 51% Hillary Clinton 43%. Here, too, is Hillary's lone demographic fail.

5. Public Policy Polling survey of Wisconsin (February 2013).

Her favorability with seniors is +23%, which is slightly better than her +19% approval rate, overall.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors:

a. Hillary Clinton 51% Marco Rubio 40%. Her 11% lead is slightly smaller than her 14% lead overall, so she's not clearly underperforming or overperforming with seniors.

b. Hillary Clinton 51% Paul Ryan 44%. Once again, her 7% lead is nearly identical with her 8% lead, overall.

c. Hillary Clinton 54% Scott Walker 42%. She has a 13% lead, overall, so her performance with seniors, again, tracks her overall performance very closely.

In all three head-to-heads, she did, by far, the worst with those who are 30-45 years old.

6. Public Policy Polling survey of Kansas (February 2013).

Her favorability with seniors sits at 42%/45% which is similar to her -1% favorability, overall. Interestingly, her worst age group is, again, with 30-45 year olds, where she sits at -10%.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Marco Rubio 47% Hillary Clinton 40%. That's slightly worse for Hillary than her -5% showing, overall.

b. Paul Ryan 50% Hillary Clinton 41%. That 9% gap is similar to the 7% gap, overall.

7. Public Policy Polling survey of Montana (February 2013).

Her favorability is at +1% with seniors and at -4%, overall. Further, seniors are her strongest age group.

Head-to-head-matchups among seniors....

a. Marco Rubio 49% Hillary 43%. That's slightly better than she does, overall.

b. Paul Ryan 52% Hillary Clinton 43%. Her 9% deficit is similar to her 7% deficit, overall.

8. Public Policy Polling survey of Georgia (February 2013).

Her favorability rating with seniors sits at 51%/41%, which is stronger than her +5% rating, overall.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Hillary Clinton 52% Newt Gingrich 42%. We won't ever see this matchup, but it's still useful to note that Hillary does stronger with older voters than her 7% lead, overall.

Also, those 30-45 years-old are least bullish on Hillary. They favor Newt by 6% and are the only age group to do so.

b. Hillary Clinton 49% Marco Rubio 46%. That's identical to her 3% lead, overall.

c. Hillary Clinton 51% Paul Ryan 44%. That's 2 percentage points better than her overall lead.

9. Public Policy Polling survey of Louisiana (February 2013).

Her favorability rating with seniors is 39%/49% for -10%. That's way worse than her rating with any other age group and much lower than her +2% rating, overall.

Head-to-head matchups against seniors....

a. Bobby Jindal 49% Hillary Clinton 43%. Seniors are her worst age group. In fact, overall, she leads Jindal by 3%, but falls by 6% among seniors.

b. Marco Rubio 50% Hillary Clinton 39%. Once again, seniors are her worst group. She actually beats Rubio in every other age group.

c. Paul Ryan 52% Hillary Clinton 40%. Hillary's 12% deficit with seniors is much worse than her performance in any other age group.

10. Public Policy Polling survey of Minnesota (January 10).

Minnesota is an interesting case.

Seniors in Texas and Louisiana were much more less positive on Hillary compared to other age groups in Louisiana and Texas. But seniors in Minnesota were much more positive towards Hillary than other age groups.

Head-to-head matchups among seniors....

a. Hillary Clinton 49% Chris Christie 29%. That's a 20% edge and MUCH bigger than Hillary's 6% lead, overall.

b. Hillary Clinton 53% Marco Rubio 32%. That's a 21% edge for Hillary, and again, it's bigger than her 13% lead, overall.