Even as They Retire, it's Still About the Boomers


America’s baby boomers, even as they increasingly enter retirement, continue to dominate our political economy in ways no previous group of elderly has done. Sadly, their impact has also proven toxic, presenting our beleaguered electorate a likely Hobbesian presidential choice between a disliked, and distrusted, political veteran and a billionaire agitator most Americans find scary.

Throughout the campaign, boomers have provided the bedrock of support for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders may have devastated Clinton among millennial voters, by almost 3-1, but she has more than offset that gap by winning overwhelming support from older voters.

In the South, it was older African Americans, particularly women, who sealed Clinton’s big wins. But older voters of all races have supercharged her campaign elsewhere; she won older voters by 39 percentage points in Missouri and 54 points in Ohio. She also captured upward of 73 percent of their votes in critical states like Virginia.

No surprise that she also did well in Arizona and Florida, states that are major retirement havens. Four of the five areas with the most retirees per capita are located in these two states.

But it’s Donald Trump who arguably was the biggest winner in the boomer wars. He has thrived most in states with aging white populations, notably Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He has consistently run five to 15 points better with the boomer generation than among younger GOP primary voters.

Some of this preference is attributable to racist and xenophobic sentiments among older people, who are, for example, typically far less favorable toward inter-racial dating than younger cohorts. Similarly, boomers are far more likely than millennials to harbor patriotic sentiments; only a third of them believe America is the greatest country in the world, compared with half of boomers. Trump’s appeal to “Make America great again” may connect with boomers, but not so much with their offspring.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, will be published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


As a Boomer of age 67.4, I don't identify as Conservative or Liberal.

1. I do despise the GOP: Party of Hate® with every bone in my body.
2. I do live in a city run by quasi-Socialists and am happy with that.
3. I do not care about the market value of my house as it does not mentally enter into my net worth calculations. I do care about the quality of the neighborhood as I want it to be attractive to people of all ages. Especially, the young.
4. I do find government regulations as over bearing and wish to see reductions in the them.
5. I love how 'Murica is becoming more colorful.
6. I am a conservative as I want to return the immigration laws that were in effect when my ancestors came here. Immigrants made 'Murica great and we need more of them.
7. I am an optimist.

Dave Barnes