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Older Candidates Simply The Rage This Election Cycle

February 1, 2016

It is now Caucus Day and within just a few hours from this posting the doors in Iowa will open and the voters will start to have their say.  There is no shortage of great articles and commentary from the pundits, such as this snippet from Stuart Rothenberg.

Why are these older candidates showing strength now? The survey data don’t give us a clear, definitive answer, but they suggest at least some preliminary, very tentative conclusions.

Sanders’ emphasis on fairness and equality resonates with idealists on the left, particularly the young, who feel left out and powerless, as well as those progressives looking to blame someone or something (banks, corporations and the wealthy) for their condition. And the Vermont Democrat is seen as honest and caring. Apparently to younger voters, those attributes are more important than his age.

Clinton’s appeal is more traditional. She is a liberal and a woman, but one who understands the system and can make it work. She has experience, which seems a more valuable attribute to older voters than to the young, who are looking for a messiah to follow.

O’Malley, on the other hand, has never looked like the genuine article. He comes off as the creation of a consulting team – or possibly his own political calculation of how he should appear to contrast himself with Clinton. His words are progressive, certainly, but he seems to be trying way too hard. His age contrast with Clinton and Sanders apparently is not enough to attract much support.

On the GOP side, Trump’s appeal is that of a strongman. He is the guy who can deal with every challenge, solve every problem and answer every question. Just have faith in him. Some voters like that, and in Trump they have a leader – even if the wealthy businessman rarely talks specifics.

While Cruz’s appeal is ideological and Rubio’s is more about the combination of ideology, pragmatism and electability, Trump’s is purely personal. Just ask him. We will see if, over the long run, that personal appeal is enough to get him the GOP nomination.

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