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 OpenSecrets.org, 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.”
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