American Morning

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November 1st, 2010
12:18 PM ET

Gut check: Pols prey on seniors?

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Perhaps it's surprising to everyone but seniors, but they are putting their money where their vote will be in a big way.

According to, retirees, many of them on a fixed income, have donated a cool $98 million to federal elections this cycle. That's a record. Some say the politics of fear –- fear of government-run healthcare, fear of losing Social Security and fear in general - has fueled the wave of donations.

Two retirees who have contributed robust amounts this election cycle are Marian Altman and Ellen Roberts, of Silver Spring, Maryland. Altman, a conservative Democrat, gave $1000 to Democratic candidates. “I think the older you get the more you realize how much you want to be involved in the government, you realize how much your vote is worth. When you're young you don't have any fear,” Altman says.

Many seniors, on the other hand, are fearful. Ellen Roberts, a conservative Republican, fears a government take-over or worse. “That is something to be afraid of,” Roberts says. “When you go and you go to the different czars that are in the White House, there are communists in there.”

What really scares many seniors is healthcare reform, and they've been bombarded with political ads that exploit that fear. There are almost 300,000 TV political ads that have an anti-healthcare theme this season. The price tag? More than $116 million. Well worth the money, analysts say, since retirees contributed more than any other group, mostly to Republican candidates.

Roberts says she donated more than $3000. CNN analyst and independent John Avlon finds the trend worrying. “The frustrating part is that politics of fear work. We've seen a long series of people using fear and hate to pump up hyper partisanship to take fundraising dollars from folks, especially older people, who are especially susceptible to the politics of fear.”

Tell us what you think. Sound off below.

Filed under: American Morning • Elections • Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Jay C

    Fear-mongering and hate-mongering won this round, some candidates won the election without doing interviews or telling how they would create jobs,( besides extending the Bush tax cuts).

    November 3, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  2. Amir

    I hear everything that is being said about nancy. My problem is.... is whats being said for political gain or a style for the moment. ... I stick with anyone one who can help end corruption, anyone.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  3. Wayne

    It seems to me that you are mocking and making fun at the expense of older voters. That smacks of entertainment, not information. A tea party is on its way.

    November 2, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  4. Brandon

    Is honesty the best policy or not?
    If it is, then let's change the way these things are done. Stop the fear-mongering and hate-mongering. Stop the lies.
    And most of all, stop the bribery and the lobbyists that cause so much of all this dishonesty with money.
    We shouldn't have to buy our freedom from the corporations, we should already have it, but we don't.
    We have a mockery of a democracy, instead.

    November 2, 2010 at 7:11 am |
  5. Tando Bower

    As a senior, I find my ability to think beyond my own personal situation in such a way as to have good judgment about real government issues has become less generous. Even so, I still don't understand the depth of some seniors' fear and consequent poor thinking. Everybody fears something but must we dying old fogies impose that fear on the younger generation? Shouldn't we be less involved?
    Don't we have anything better to go"

    November 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm |