Fifty percent of American adults age 40-59 — The Baby Boomers — feel that the government is doing too much to solve Wall Street’s problems, according to a new poll by TV Land. Twenty-five percent feel that the government is not doing enough about the Wall Street crisis and 25% don’t know if there should be more or less government involvement. This is just one of the findings in a new poll conducted by OTX on behalf of TV Land, a division of Viacom Inc.’s (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) MTV Networks, as part of TV Land’s overall commitment to superserve this 40- and 50-something demographic.
The TV Land poll also shows 94% of Boomers — the country’s largest generation — plan to go to the polls next month, with 82% of those polled saying they are extremely likely to vote. The impact of this finding is enormous as this generation had the highest turnout of voters in the 2004 Presidential election. Obama voters are more determined to make their voices heard as 89% of his supporters say they are extremely likely to vote compared to 82% of McCain supporters and 58% of undecideds. The survey also shows that regardless of whom they are voting for, the majority of people in this demographic (54%) believe that Barack Obama will win the 2008 Presidential election this November. Twenty-five percent believe John McCain will win and 20% are unsure of the outcome of the November vote. The poll also found that if the election were held today, the country’s largest generation would elect Barack Obama to office capturing 48% of the vote. John McCain would get 40% of the Boomer vote and 12% of Boomers are either unsure or voting for someone else.
“Based on sheer numbers, people in their 40s and 50s have the loudest voice of any other demographic in the country, period,” states Larry W. Jones, president, TV Land. “Any politician, advertiser, businessman, or otherwise, would be wise to listen to what is important to this generation. They have been making marketplace demands their entire life and they aren’t going to stop now.”
“Baby Boomers have made a significant impact on many brands, trends and politicians in the past,” adds Laurel Wichert, vice president, research, TV Land. “With almost 100% of them prepared to vote in November, it’s clear they are ready and willing to make a statement one more time.”
Like Joe The Plumber, Boomers’ voting decisions are being shaped by several pocketbook issues before anything else. The majority of voters ages 40-59 surveyed reveal that a host of pocketbook issues are top of mind as those surveyed said that the economy (81%), health care (65%), gas prices (62%), Social Security and Medicare (58%) and taxes (57%) are among the most important issues to them. Iraq (55%), the situation on Wall Street (53%) and terrorism (51%) are also extremely important issues to Boomers in voting for President. Fifty-five percent of people in their 40s and 50s feel that Obama’s Presidency would be better for their financial future than a McCain Presidency (45%).
Interestingly, the voting intent of most 40-59-year-olds is not impacted by recent economic news. In fact, three-quarters (76%) say that the recent economic news has not made them reconsider whom they are supporting for President. These feelings are not a result of the majority of Boomers misunderstanding the Wall Street Crisis. Seventy-one percent of adults in their 40s and 50s say they understand the financial crisis on Wall Street and the Federal Government’s bailout of the finance industry and 29% feel they do not. Thirty-four percent of them feel that Obama will do a better job of handling the current problems on Wall Street, while 26% say McCain would do better on this front. One-fifth say both are able to do the job equally well, and a similar proportion (21%) say they don’t know.
Regardless of whom they are voting for, Boomers would be most inclined to socialize with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin versus John McCain and Joe Biden. By overwhelming margins (63%), Boomers would want Sarah Palin to baby-sit for their kids, however they would most want to have dinner with Barack Obama (41%). Governor Palin won on several other social categories such as: go on vacation with (42%), go to a bar with (31%), sing karaoke with (42%).
The majority of Boomers (55%) indicate that what they see and hear about the candidates in the media is extremely or very important in helping them decide their vote for President. Sixty-two percent of Obama supporters say that the media is extremely/very important, while only 47% of McCain supporters say the same. Even though 40- and 50-somethings use the media when deciding how to vote, only 15% trust what they see and hear about the candidates. Fifty-four percent trust somewhat what they hear in the media, while 31% do not trust what they hear in the media at all. 40% of McCain supporters do not trust the media compared to 19% of Obama supporters.
Although the candidates declined to criticize the readiness of their opposing Vice Presidential candidates in last night’s Presidential debate, when asked about the Vice President candidates, nearly two-thirds of people in their 40s and 50s (64%) say Joe Biden is prepared for the job of Vice President of the United States. Thirty-four percent feel Palin is prepared. Contrastingly, Sarah Palin is seen by 47% of the demo as not prepared for the job versus the 13% who think Biden isn’t prepared. The majority of Boomers (51%) say that Biden helped Obama’s chances of being elected and 45% say Palin helped McCain. Nearly one-fifth (18%) say Biden hurt Obama’s chances, while 34% say Palin hurt McCain.
While both candidates have a “change” platform, 48% of Boomer voters find Barack Obama more believable when he talks about “change” while 21% say John McCain is more believable. Nine percent say both candidates are believable when they talk about “change” and 18% say neither candidate. Only 4% of this generation doesn’t know which candidate is more believable. Nearly nine in ten Boomer voters (86%) say that things in this country are heading on the wrong track. Among Barack Obama supporters, that number jumps to 92% who say the country is on the wrong track. Twenty-three percent of McCain supporters say the country is on the right track, compared to only 8% of Obama supporters.
Regardless of their personal voting intent, 89% of Boomers feel that the war in Iraq will “change” for the better in an Obama Presidency versus 70% who feel Iraq will “change” for the better under a McCain Administration. Regardless of who wins, the majority of Boomers feel that the next administration will bring “change” to the War in Iraq (62%), energy policies (56%) and economic policies (53%).
When considering a Presidential candidate, over three-quarters (77%) feel that good judgment is extremely important as is the candidate’s economic plan (57%) and the candidate’s ability to work across party lines (55%). Almost six in ten (58%) Boomers say age does not matter when asked if they preferred a candidate that is their age, younger or older than they are. However, more than half of this demo (55%) felt that Obama — a Boomer himself — understands their needs and problems. Forty-one percent say the same of McCain.
The majority of people ages 40-59 associate key leadership attributes to Obama including “has a vision for the future” (60%), “communicates clearly” (57%) and “passionate” (57%). John McCain is seen as “courageous” (57%) and “experienced” (69%).
The vast majority of this generation (94%) say that the economy is worse than it was a year ago and they are almost evenly divided in thirds as to where they think the U.S. economy will be in a year’s time — 35% say it will be better, 32% think it will be worse, 32% think it will be the same. Over six in ten (64%) Boomers say their personal financial situation is worse than it was a year ago, 23% feels it is the same and 13% say it is better. Over four in ten (42%) feel that their personal financial situation will be better a year from now. Thirty-four percent feel it will be about the same and 24% feel it will be worse.