Mapping The Gerontocracy | ZeroHedge

The passing of California Senator Dianne Feinstein at the age of 90 is throwing a spotlight on America’s political establishment, not only with the government narrowly escaping shutdown, but on questions of ageism, representation, and fitness for office.

Feinstein had a noteworthy career. As the longest-running woman in the Senate’s history, she served the nation’s most populous state.

Yet, as Visual Capitalist’s Dorothy Neufeld details below, Feinstein’s growing health complications along with two incidents of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell freezing while speaking this year highlight the growing trend of America’s aging leadership.

The above graphic shows the age of U.S. senators, by state as of October 5, 2023.

How the Age of U.S. Senators Breaks Down

Today, 66% of senators are over the age of 60.

While senators have historically been older than the American population, consider how the median age in the U.S. is 39 according to the 2020 U.S. Census, and the median age of the Senate prior to Feinstein’s passing was 65.

We can see in the below table how the Senate has become growingly older, influenced by longer lifespans and the increased likelihood of members running for re-election (and winning). In addition, members in the Baby Boomer generation, ages 58 to 77 years old, often have more resources and wealth to help secure their seat.

Name Senator Age State Party
Grassley, Chuck 90 Iowa Republican
Sanders, Bernard 82 Vermont Independent
McConnell, Mitch 81 Kentucky Republican
Risch, James E. 80 Idaho Republican
Cardin, Benjamin L. 80 Maryland Democratic
King, Angus S., Jr. 79 Maine Independent
Durbin, Richard J. 78 Illinois Democratic
Blumenthal, Richard 77 Connecticut Democratic
Markey, Edward J. 77 Massachusetts Democratic
Carper, Thomas R. 76 Delaware Democratic
Shaheen, Jeanne 76 New Hampshire Democratic
Welch, Peter 76 Vermont Democratic
Manchin, Joe, III 76 West Virginia Democratic
Romney, Mitt 76 Utah Republican
Hirono, Mazie K. 75 Hawaii Democratic
Warren, Elizabeth 74 Massachusetts Democratic
Wyden, Ron 74 Oregon Democratic
Stabenow, Debbie 73 Michigan Democratic
Reed, Jack 73 Rhode Island Democratic
Schumer, Charles E. 72 New York Democratic
Murray, Patty 72 Washington Democratic
Boozman, John 72 Arkansas Republican
Crapo, Mike 72 Idaho Republican
Wicker, Roger F. 72 Mississippi Republican
Fischer, Deb 72 Nebraska Republican
John W.
71 Colorado Democratic
Kennedy, John 71 Louisiana Republican
Blackburn, Marsha 71 Tennessee Republican
Cornyn, John 71 Texas Republican
Barrasso, John 71 Wyoming Republican
Brown, Sherrod 70 Ohio Democratic
Scott, Rick 70 Florida Republican
Collins, Susan M. 70 Maine Republican
Menendez, Robert 69 New Jersey Democratic
Tuberville, Tommy 69 Alabama Republican
Braun, Mike 69 Indiana Republican
Moran, Jerry 69 Kansas Republican
Shelley Moore
69 West Virginia Republican
Lummis, Cynthia M. 69 Wyoming Republican
Warner, Mark R. 68 Virginia Democratic
Graham, Lindsey 68 South Carolina Republican
Rounds, Mike 68 South Dakota Republican
Johnson, Ron 68 Wisconsin Republican
Tester, Jon 67 Montana Democratic
Whitehouse, Sheldon 67 Rhode Island Democratic
Rosen, Jacky 66 Nevada Democratic
Merkley, Jeff 66 Oregon Democratic
Murkowski, Lisa 66 Alaska Republican
Hoeven, John 66 North Dakota Republican
Cassidy, Bill 66 Louisiana Republican
Smith, Tina 65 Minnesota Democratic
Margaret Wood
65 New Hampshire Democratic
Kaine, Tim 65 Virginia Democratic
Van Hollen, Chris 64 Maryland Democratic
Peters, Gary C. 64 Michigan Democratic
Cantwell, Maria 64 Washington Democratic
Hyde-Smith, Cindy 64 Mississippi Republican
Hagerty, Bill 64 Tennessee Republican
Klobuchar, Amy 63 Minnesota Democratic
Robert P., Jr.
63 Pennsylvania Democratic
Marshall, Roger 63 Kansas Republican
Tillis, Thom 63 North Carolina Republican
Cramer, Kevin 62 North Dakota Republican
Thune, John 62 South Dakota Republican
Baldwin, Tammy 61 Wisconsin Democratic
Daines, Steve 61 Montana Republican
Christopher A.
60 Delaware Democratic
Paul, Rand 60 Kentucky Republican
Kelly, Mark 59 Arizona Democratic
Cortez Masto,
59 Nevada Democratic
Ricketts, Pete 59 Nebraska Republican
Bennet, Michael F. 58 Colorado Democratic
Sullivan, Dan 58 Alaska Republican
Scott, Tim 58 South Carolina Republican
Gillibrand, Kirsten E. 56 New York Democratic
Duckworth, Tammy 55 Illinois Democratic
Lankford, James 55 Oklahoma Republican
Raphael G.
54 Georgia Democratic
Booker, Cory A. 54 New Jersey Democratic
Fetterman, John 54 Pennsylvania Democratic
Ernst, Joni 53 Iowa Republican
Rubio, Marco 52 Florida Republican
Cruz, Ted 52 Texas Republican
Lee, Mike 52 Utah Republican
Heinrich, Martin 51 New Mexico Democratic
Luján, Ben Ray 51 New Mexico Democratic
Young, Todd 51 Indiana Republican
Budd, Ted 51 North Carolina Republican
Padilla, Alex 50 California Democratic
Murphy, Christopher 50 Connecticut Democratic
Schatz, Brian 50 Hawaii Democratic
Schmitt, Eric 48 Missouri Republican
Sinema, Kyrsten 47 Arizona Independent
Cotton, Tom 46 Arkansas Republican
Mullin, Markwayne 46 Oklahoma Republican
Laphonza Butler 44 California Democratic
Hawley, Josh 43 Missouri Republican
Britt, Katie Boyd 41 Alabama Republican
Vance, J.D. 39 Ohio Republican
Ossoff, Jon 36 Georgia Democratic

On the other end of the spectrum are nine senators under the age of 50, including Democrat Jon Ossoff of Georgia, at 36, and Republican senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, at 39. Laphonza Butler, 44, the newly appointed senator to replace Feinstein, also falls within this camp.

This trend of an older Senate may have policy ramifications.

Studies show that lawmakers’ identities can influence legislative behavior. Older members of Congress have been shown to have a higher likelihood of introducing legislation on prescription drugs and long-term care, and other issues affecting seniors.

Other studies show that racial minorities, women, and veterans are more likely to intervene in Congress in the interest of these groups.

Top U.S. Senators, by Time in Office

Along with the trend of an older Congress, the average number of years served has also increased.

Today, senators in the 118th Congress have served 11.2 years on average as of January 2023. Over the 20th century, turnover has decreased due to more senators seeking re-election, which stands in contrast to the Senate’s early history when turnover happened more frequently.

Below, we show the currently serving senators that have held office the longest, based on their time in both the Senate and the House:

Name State Party Number of Years in Office
Grassley, Chuck Iowa Republican 48 years
Markey, Ed Massachusetts Democrat 46 years
Wyden, Ron Oregon Democrat 42 years
Schumer, Charles E. New York Democrat 42 years
McConnell, Mitch Kentucky Republican 38 years

Together, the top five U.S. senators have served a combined 216 years in office.


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