After thundering efforts by Democrats to defend senior welfare programs led by Social Security and Medicare against Republican attacks, the latest poll by Public Policy, a leading progressive pollster, finds Americans age 65 and older strongly favoring Republican Mitt Romney and leaning toward the far-right Michele Bachmann over Democratic president Barack Obama in 2012.

The cataclysmic generation division found in the July 20 poll of 928 voters ( ) titled “Obama’s numbers look poor,” suggests a disturbing reactionary entrenchment among senior citizens that fuels the Tea Party and ultra-conservative Republican victories. Among the generation-splitting findings:

— Among voters age 18-29, Obama wins by landslide margins over Bachmann (61-29%), Sarah Palin (71-24%), and even Romney (51-37%).

— However, among voters 65 and older, Obama loses to Romney (42-49%) and is statistically tied with Bachmann (43-45%) and Palin (45-43%).

— Perhaps scariest of all, 41% of seniors would vote for fringe rightist Republican Herman Cain (only 3 points fewer than would support Obama), while Cain loses handily in every younger age group, led by a 39-point Obama landslide against Cain among voters age 18-29.

Exit polls in the 2010 midterm election likewise found 58% of voters 65 and older favoring Republican House candidates as well as nearly all GOP Senate candidates. In fact, had seniors had their way, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, Linda MacMahon, and Carly Fiorina would be part of a Republican Senate majority.  Fortunately, the young (59% of those age 18-24 and 56% age 25-29 backed Democrats) overruled their elders and defeated the most reactionary crazies ( ).

What is behind the far-right sympathies of America’s seniors, beneficiaries of the biggest government health and welfare programs? Our analysis of dozens of recent voter polls and surveys ( ) finds deeply disturbing levels of selfishness, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, religious intolerance, and anti-scientific attitudes among aging constituencies.

American elders seem so alienated from the emerging multicultural America that they are willing to accept what The Nation‘s Chris Hayes ( ) called Republican “bribing” to preserve full welfare benefits for Americans age 55 and older at the expense of throwing younger generations, including future seniors, under the bus of far-right politicians’ defunding of shared services and concentration of wealth in corporations and the rich. Progressives need to pay more alarmed attention to the mammoth generational chasm in which the young are being punished for the irresponsible, frankly scary attitudes and voting on the part of the old. If the polls are accurate and seniors are irretrievably lost to the far Right, what is Democrats’ Plan B to win in 2012?

Mike Males

Mike Males