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AARP Shows Which Issues are Critical to Swing Voters

August 6, 2008

Contact: Drew Nannis, AARP, 202-434-2560,

AARP today released new research that defines critical, undecided “swing voters” in 6 key states this fall as well as the specific policy options that motivate them.

The research identifies who undecided, swing voters are –white, lower-to-middle income, older women – in six key states: Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Swing voters in the six key states are focused domestically on the economy and health care, but three-fourths (72%) believe the candidates are doing a poor or fair job of addressing these key issues.

“Undecided swing voters are older women, focused domestically on the economy and health care and do not feel that either candidate is adequately addressing these issues,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

The polling found that 60 percent of swing voters say they are interested in learning more about the candidates’ positions on the issues that matter most to them. Perhaps most importantly, the research indicates that nearly all swing voters (94%) in the six key states agree that health care and financial security are too big for any one candidate or party to fix.

“Both candidates must be willing to work across party lines to deliver legislative solutions,” added LeaMond. “The way they’re campaigning now, however, is not getting it done. People want a change not just in the White House, but in how Washington does business. The candidates need to set a tone in this election that doesn’t continue to undermine the public’s faith and trust.”

When asked what the most important issue was to swing voters, twice as many picked the economy than picked foreign policy issues, which came in second. Health care came in third.

How do Senators McCain and Obama unlock the swing voter? The research showed that nationally, four specific proposals resonated most:

•93 percent favor requiring clear explanations of health care costs so patients know how much they will be charged upfront;

•90 percent favor requiring schools to teach financial literacy to all children;

•90 percent favor making healthcare affordable for small businesses by allowing them to band together for lower rates, providing tax credits to offset employer premium contributions and protecting them from large rate increases; and

•89 percent favor establishing preventive care management to help people with multiple chronic illnesses receive better care at lower cost.

“Senators McCain and Obama need only to engage the critical voters on the issues of economic security and health care,” concluded LeaMond. “AARP looks forward to being there, every day from now until Election Day, ensuring that the candidates do just that.”

The AARP Battleground States survey obtained telephone interviews with a random sample of 400 likely voters who are undecided or not strongly committed to a candidate in each of 6 states (Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) aged 18 and older. The interviews were conducted in English by Woelfel Research, Inc. from June 27 to July 20, 2008. The results from the study were not weighted. The margin of sampling error for each state sample of approximately 400 is ±4.9%.

For the complete study, visit


AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 33 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 39 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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