McCain, Romney Support Higher Among Older GOP Voters

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Huckabee, Giuliani, Paul have higher support among younger voters

PRINCETON, NJ -- An analysis of Gallup's daily tracking data on national Republican voters' presidential nomination preferences shows that the candidates' appeal varies somewhat by age. Specifically, older GOP voters are more likely than younger voters to support John McCain and Mitt Romney, and younger voters show somewhat higher support than older voters for Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Paul.

These data are based on combined interviews with 2,428 Republican voters conducted between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28, 2008 -- spanning the time between Fred Thompson's exit from the campaign and Tuesday's key Florida Republican primary.

McCain's support increases with age, with a noticeable increase among voters 35 and older. Twenty-five percent of 18- to 34-year-old Republican voters favor McCain, compared with 31% of 35- to 54-year-olds and 33% of those 55 and older. McCain's age (71) has been a subject of some discussion, as he seeks to become the oldest person elected to the presidency.

Romney, too, has greater appeal among older voters. While his support is similar among younger and middle-aged voters (16% among both groups), it jumps 10 percentage points among those 55 and older.

The remaining candidates show a decline in support among older voters. Huckabee's pattern is a variation on the Romney theme -- similar among the two youngest age groups, but dropping off among the oldest Republicans.

Both Giuliani and Paul are supported most by the youngest cohort of GOP voters, and show slightly lower support among each succeeding age group. The pattern for Paul is ironic from the standpoint that he is the oldest Republican candidate in the race.

McCain, the front-runner nationally, polls the best among all age groups, including younger voters, who show the lowest level of support for him. But he and Huckabee are essentially tied among younger voters. McCain has a rather substantial 10-point lead among middle-aged Republicans, with Huckabee running second among this group. McCain tops Romney among older GOP voters, both candidates' strongest group.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with 2,428 Republican voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 22-28, 2008, as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 329 Republican voters aged 18 to 34, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 923 Republican voters aged 35 to 54, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 1,152 Republican voters aged 55 and older, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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