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Older Voters Turn Out in Large Numbers and Help GOP Regain Control of House

Voters age 50+ provided nearly six of every 10 votes in Tuesday's midterm election, two years after casting a bit more than 40 percent of ballots in the presidential race that saw younger voters turning out in record numbers.

A quarter of all ballots cast Tuesday came from 65+ voters, the highest percentage since 1994. Almost 60 percent of those votes went to Republicans and helped them regain control of the House and narrow the Democratic majority in the Senate.

"Voting means power. I don't think people recognize that enough. I don't think people realize the power of one vote," said Lorraine Cooper, an older voter in Cincinnati.

"Voting means a lot," said Rose Brown, another voter from Cincinnati. "You can't complain about things if you don't vote."

Slightly more than half of voters between the ages of 50 and 64 — most of the boomer generation — favored Republicans over Democrats this time after slightly favoring President Barack Obama in the 2008 election over Republican nominee John McCain.

"I don't think Obama's cut out to be president," said Bob Eddy, a veteran from Cincinnati. "The federal government is putting us in a hole. The whole government is out of control."

Almost a majority of all voters said Congress should repeal the federal health care law enacted earlier this year. Another 30 percent said it should be expanded, and less than 20 percent said it should be left alone.

In most Senate races, boomers agreed with voters 65 and older in how they voted, whether they went Democratic or Republican. But in at least six states, boomers sided with Democrats while older voters went Republican.

In Connecticut, for example, boomers gave 60 percent of their votes to winner Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat; a slight majority of those 65 and older favored Republican Linda McMahon. California boomers gave more than half of their votes to winning Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, while a majority of voters 65 and older opted for Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

In Colorado, boomers gave just over half their votes to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet while an equally slight majority of those 65 and older favored Republican Ken Buck in a race Bennet went on to win. In Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak got slightly more than 50 percent of the boomer vote, while 65+ voters favored victorious Republican Patrick Toomey by nearly 60 percent.

And in Wisconsin, boomers favored Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold with 52 percent; older voters gave more than 50 percent of their votes to winner Republican Ron Johnson.

In the Delaware Senate race, which was given a high profile by the personality and primary upset victory of Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell, boomers voted against her by roughly the same margin — almost 60 percent — as two years ago when she challenged then-Sen. Joseph Biden. Voters 65 and older supported O'Donnell by nearly 55 percent this time. But O'Donnell lost to Democratic nominee Christopher Coons.

When asked whether they approved or disapproved of the job Obama is doing, voters of all ages split according to party. Democrats approved of Obama's performance by almost 8-to-1, while Republicans disapproved of it by the same lopsided margin.

Just as many voters said Obama was not a factor in how they voted Tuesday as said their votes were intended to express dissatisfaction with him, with nearly 40 percent explaining their votes that way. Only a quarter said they intended their votes as signs of support for the president.

By almost 3-to-1, voters said they disapproved of Congress' performance, with about 75 percent saying they did not like it and 25 percent approving. Of those who approved, about 80 percent were Democrats, while those who disapproved split two-thirds Republican and one-third Democrat.

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