We talk about the “Greatest Generation” — the World War II vets and those whose views were formed during the Depression. A lot of focus has also been put on “baby boomers” as many move into retirement. Then, of course, there are the Generation Xers who followed and Generation Y, the new, young voters with increasing influence on the political process.

Pollsters differ on how to split them up by age group, but the exit polls for 2004 and 2008 split the electorate up into 18-29, 30-44, 45-59 and 60 and over.

The one group that might be worth a special look is the “Generation Jones” voters, those who are somewhat lost between the baby boomers and Generation X, who were born between 1954 and 1965. These voters were too young to get the full effect of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights struggles and missed much of the rock culture. They are described by social commentator Jonathan Pontell as “the generation of unfulfilled expectations” — as in keeping up with the Joneses.

These voters are what one would have to call middle-aged. In 2008 they are between the ages of 43 and 54, a critical swing group. Many of them came of age politically during the time of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In 2004, they narrowly favored George Bush and in 2000 were pretty evenly divided between Gore and Bush. In short, they are very much up for grabs in this presidential election and in the down-ballot Senate and House races.

Since they represent nearly a quarter of the electorate, they are a strong target for all the campaign’s messages. Because they generally have favorable impressions of Reagan, favor balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, yet are concerned about the excesses of the past eight years and are feeling squeezed with the economic meltdown, they are clearly a focus for both Obama and McCain, even if neither campaign has quite explained it that way!

As Campaign 2008 enters the final days, keep an eye on these voters — they will be critical to the outcome.