Wednesday, January 6, 2010

That Old-Time, Old-Fashioned, Old-Old Senate

I've written before about how old our current Congress, and especially the Senate, have become.  The current Senate is the oldest ever.  As I've said, I'm against term limits, but I'd like to see a much younger Senate.

Yesterday's retirements didn't help as much as they could, as it turns out.  Byron Dorgan is 67, and will be replaced (almost certainly) by John Hoeven, who is 52.  That's something, but in the other race Chris Dodd (65) will be replaced by Richard Blumenthal (63 -- Rob Simmons is 66), so nothing much happening there. 

In all, there are now ten retiring Senators, with an average age of 65 (ages as of now; I used a bunch of sources that may or may not be totally updated, so it could be off a year here or there).  My guesses for the most likely ten new Senators from these seats are Hoeven, Blumenthal, Biden, Carnahan, Rubio, Moran, Hodes, Paul, Giannoulias, and Portman, who average just under 49 years old.  That's a large swing, and would significantly change things.  On the other hand, if I look at the second-most-likely next Senator in each of these states, the list is Simmons, Castle, Blunt, Crist, Tiahrt, Ayotte, Conway, Kirk, and Fisher (I'm leaving out North Dakota, since I have no idea who #2 might be and Hoeven seems close to a lock).  That group has an average age of 55 years old, so it would be a much less impressive improvement -- by the end of their terms, they would be comfortably over 60.

The big differences are:

Delaware: Biden (40) vs. Castle (70).
Illinois: Giannoulias (33!) vs. Kirk (50).
New Hampshire: Hodes ( 58) vs. Ayotte (41).
Florida: Rubio (38) vs. Crist (53).

Also of interest are these races with endangered incumbents:  The Senate would probably get younger if Reid, Specter, Burr, or Bennett (UT) lost, but older should Bennet (CO) or Vitter lose.  And there's Kay Bailey Hutcheson...if she retires as expected, her successor would probably be younger, but it's not as clear how that one will shake out.

Go, young candidates!


  1. Not to quibble, and I haven't taken the time to look back at your previous posts on this subject, but have you adjusted previous Congress' ages for changes in life expectancy? I'm not even quite sure how to go about it.

  2. Good question: the answer is, no, I haven't! It's just the raw score, reported by CRS in their report at the beginning of each Congress (and, in fact, they only claim that it's the highest in the X years they know about, but it's implausible that there's a higher number from the 19th century.

    So, no, it's not adjusted for changes in life expectancy -- although it's surely caused by it, along with an incentive for parties to keep incumbents running. The result, though, stinks, in my opinion.


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