Mapped: The Age of U.S. Senators, by State
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 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.
|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|
|Markey, Edward J.||77||Massachusetts||Democratic|
|Carper, Thomas R.||76||Delaware||Democratic|
|Shaheen, Jeanne||76||New Hampshire||Democratic|
|Manchin, Joe, III||76||West Virginia||Democratic|
|Hirono, Mazie K.||75||Hawaii||Democratic|
|Reed, Jack||73||Rhode Island||Democratic|
|Schumer, Charles E.||72||New York||Democratic|
|Wicker, Roger F.||72||Mississippi||Republican|
|Collins, Susan M.||70||Maine||Republican|
|Menendez, Robert||69||New Jersey||Democratic|
|Lummis, Cynthia M.||69||Wyoming||Republican|
|Warner, Mark R.||68||Virginia||Democratic|
|Graham, Lindsey||68||South Carolina||Republican|
|Rounds, Mike||68||South Dakota||Republican|
|Whitehouse, Sheldon||67||Rhode Island||Democratic|
|Hoeven, John||66||North Dakota||Republican|
|Van Hollen, Chris||64||Maryland||Democratic|
|Peters, Gary C.||64||Michigan||Democratic|
Robert P., Jr.
|Tillis, Thom||63||North Carolina||Republican|
|Cramer, Kevin||62||North Dakota||Republican|
|Thune, John||62||South Dakota||Republican|
|Bennet, Michael F.||58||Colorado||Democratic|
|Scott, Tim||58||South Carolina||Republican|
|Gillibrand, Kirsten E.||56||New York||Democratic|
|Booker, Cory A.||54||New Jersey||Democratic|
|Heinrich, Martin||51||New Mexico||Democratic|
|Luján, Ben Ray||51||New Mexico||Democratic|
|Budd, Ted||51||North Carolina||Republican|
|Britt, Katie Boyd||41||Alabama||Republican|
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.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.
Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.
The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.
Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023
Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.
|Trust in the mass media||% Great deal/Fair amount||% Not very much||% None at all|
In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.
That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.
The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media
Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.
According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.
“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”
Michael Schudson – Columbia Journalism School
More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.
Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media
Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.
Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.
According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.
The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.
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