We the People: Generational & Gender Differences

VIROQUA, Wis.-- You've no doubt been hearing a lot about a so-called "war on women," not only from some of the candidates  for Wisconsin governor, but also on the national stage in the Presidential election.

You might've even seen or heard candidates targeting certain groups of voters to try to get their message out. But is that fair? Is it useful? Or does it cause more contention by pitting one group against another?

We continue our monthly series called "We the People Wisconsin." The statewide project takes a look at a variety of issues from the perspective of people of all different backgrounds around the state. The person News 8 is following over the next several months leading up to the November election is 71 year old Palmer Hoffland of Viroqua.

We recently sat down with Palmer to get his thoughts on generational and gender differences and how they play a role in elections.

As a gray-haired retiree, Palmer Hoffland knows there's no denying what demographic group he falls into. "I would imagine anyone that would see me, would say oh, there's an older guy, he probably has more interest in this and that or whatever its. I'd probably see a younger person and say they probably don't have quite the concerns I have," says Palmer.

A recent Pew Research Study found generational differences have mattered more in the last four national elections than they have in decades. Palmer says, "I think generational issues are definitely issues that affect people and how they probably vote. I'm going to probably be more attentive to issues that affect older and retired people.  I'm going to be aware of and cognizant of things that affect the younger people, but the other ones are really personal because I'm there."


Take for instance Social Security. While most people would view it as a "senior" issue, younger people are the ones who will put the most money into the program. So can it be categorized into one demographic group with a common view? For Palmer, the answer is no. "The older people are going to have a very slanted view on how Social Security should be for example, the younger people might just have a little different twist on how it should be because they have a longer time before they have to think about using social security and they may be more receptive than some politicians realize."

And being grouped into the "senior" view on issues isn't something Palmer resents. Instead, he thinks it's only natural. "I don't think it's a matter of a fairness issue, it's just where you are in your station in life. Are you a young person, middle aged person or an older person, you're going to be tuned into those issues that affect you the most."

And it's not just generational differences. With claims of a "war on women" from both parties in this year's presidential election and in the recall election for Wisconsin governor, gender differences are more prominent than ever before too. However, Palmer believes a lot of time the issue is being blown out of proportion. "I'll vote for you if you're a good woman and I'll not vote for you if you're a bad woman, but the same for the man so it doesn't make any difference you know, you've got to be a good person being able to do the job."

For Palmer, the big issue has been and will be for quite some time the one that crosses all demographic lines, debt and taxes.

Palmer is just one of several voices who will be weighing in on this topic as part of this statewide "We the People" project. And we'll continue to follow Palmer over the next several months to get his thoughts on a number of other issues.

If you would like to hear what the other participants in the "We the People" project have to say, just go to wtpeople.com.

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