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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voters of a certain age

In the West Chester region on Tuesday, old people voted, and young people didn't. Republicans voted, and Democrats didn't. Observe:

Hershey's Mill is a large, age-restricted community in East Goshen Township. Residents of this community vote at two precincts, East Goshen Five and East Goshen Eight.

On Tuesday, turnout at these two precincts was 49 percent. Of the 2,346 registered voters, 1288 came to the polls. Republicans outperformed Democrats in both precincts by about 2.5 to 1.

West Chester Borough is loaded with college students and young professionals and has a strong Democratic majority. Average turnout across the borough was less than 20 percent. Here's a breakdown:

WC's young voters: In the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth precincts, where many students and young professionals live, turnout was 12 percent. Of the 6865 registered voters in these precincts, 828 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 2 to 1.

WC's minority and low-income voters: In the Second Precinct, where many of the minority and low-income voters live, turnout was 10 percent. Of the 1,549 registered voters, 150 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 3.5 to 1.

WC's older, more affluent voters: The borough's First and Seventh precincts contain the bigger houses, where many settled, financially well-off adults and senior citizens live. Voter turnout was 22 percent. Of the 3,323 registered voters, 729 came to the polls. Democrats outperformed Republicans here by about 2 to 1.

To put a finer point on it, Hershey's Mill has 2645 registered voters, 1288 of whom came to the polls. West Chester Borough has 11,737 registered voters, 1,707 of whom came to the polls.

If the Democratic West Chester Area School Board candidates performed worse than expected, young West Chester Borough voters are to blame.

Perhaps the borough's Democrats are too new to this whole voting thing. Perhaps they are too young. Perhaps they exhibit the existential ADD brought on by too much exposure to Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, Blackberries, iPhones and Google News. Perhaps they'll only come to the polls if an exciting presidential candidate uses this ADD-inducing media to disseminate to them vaguely optimistic catchphrases.

My concern here - my motive for writing this post - is not partisan. I am really, really angry that people my age don't vote. I want healthcare reform, and I don't care whether it comes through a government-run program or through more effective competition in the private marketplace. I want a decent, affordable policy I can take with me from job to job - I believe that, like auto insurance, health insurance should be mandatory and should not be an employee benefit. Many people my age feel this way. Yet we don't vote. The legislators, therefore, don't care how we feel. They care how the Hershey's Mill voters feel. The Hershey's Mill voters vote in every election, and the Hershey's Mill voters, most of whom already have "socialized medicine" (it's called Medicare), will use whatever twisted logic they can to keep their Medicare intact. Basically, they don't want socialized medicine for young people. And the Democratic majority in Washington doesn't want to try increasing competition in the private healthcare marketplace. Legislators, lacking enough support among the electorate (read: seniors) for Medicare-for-all-ages, and lacking enough support among their own ranks for a private healthcare solution, will come up with some muddled thing or another that does nothing for people my age.

I feel like I'm yelling at a pickett fence. I do not want to hear anyone with Medicare complain about "socialized medicine." Unless, of course, they give up their medicare and join me on the private healthcare market.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hershey's Mill is full of hard core Republicans who don't care about their grandchildren's education. That was made clear at their deceptive 'bi-partisan tax meeting' where they brought the Republican School Board candidates in...where Rodgers Vaughn who was part of the school board that caused the financial problems declared Sue Carty clueless. These people are selfish human beings and they are sheep that the likes of Gwenne Alexandar herds into voting her way. Over half of these people drain our medicare system and you are correct, they should shut up.

November 5, 2009 11:32 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Send this to The Quad and see if they'll run it - they should.

November 6, 2009 6:09 AM 
Anonymous Charlie said...

Dan is quite right: non-voting is a big problem. A number of countries like Australia has solved it by fining people for not voting. Of course, we'd never do that here, where it's fair to let interest groups impose their will on others, but not to make people think.

Because we have no sustained dialogue on political ideas, voters are at the mercy of fear and indignation, our best vote motivators. You'd think self-interest would work too, but lower income citizens have often been convinced to vote against their own well-being.

In the rare case of Obama, voters admired him and were impressed by him; the fear aroused against him as "other" did not peak till several months after his election, but continues today, with results we just saw in Virginia and New Jersey. And the indignation plays out in counterfactual responses to health care reform proposals, like the canard about killing grandma or the mantra "Keep the government out of Medicare!"

There is usually a pendulum effect in American political life. Locally, at least, the pendulum has swung quite a bit toward the right wing (two moderate Republican incumbents were ousted by right-wingers in the R primary in May; and the Republican WCASD school board candidates even ran against a largely Republican board).

When residents who appreciate public services and parents who appreciate public schools begin to worry, the pendulum will swing back. But we don't know when that will be.

Those in their twenties don't seem to fall into any group that sees a reason to vote. A good follow-up by Dan would be to talk to some of his age group and tell us what other than Barack Obama would get them to the polls.

November 6, 2009 5:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grandma has been eating off your plate for years. You'll get your turn.

November 7, 2009 9:25 AM 

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