TALLAHASSEE – Voters age 50+ in the key “swing vote” group are closely watching candidates in the 2008 presidential election, but they are far from settled in their candidate preferences, according to an issue poll released today by AARP.
Almost eight in 10 survey respondents likely to vote in the Democratic primary say they are very likely (36 percent) or somewhat likely (42 percent) to change their vote depending on a candidate’s stance on issues. Of those surveyed, 82 percent of potential Republican primary voters said they are likely (41 percent – very likely; 41 percent somewhat likely) to change their candidate preference as they learn more about candidates’ stance on the issues of health care and lifetime financial security.
The issue poll, commissioned by AARP, focuses on a key slice of the electorate -- “swing voters” who identify themselves as independent. Voters 50 or older make up about half the electorate nationally, and about half of all 50+ voters are AARP members. AARP surveyed 893 Florida AARP members who identify themselves as independents and who will likely vote in one of the 2008 primaries (60 percent – Democratic primary; 40 percent – Republican primary.) Results show that despite a high rate of involvement and interest in the presidential campaign, likely Florida voters feel they don’t have enough information about particular candidates, and are still uncertain where the candidates stand on the Divided We Fail issues of health care and financial security.
“While Democratic voters appear to be getting a grasp on candidates’ positions, voters are still undecided, particularly among Republicans,” said Lori Parham, AARP Florida state director. “Even among voters with a preference for a particular candidate, many voters remain willing to change their preference based on what they learn about the candidates’ positions.”
Potential voters listed Iraq as the top overall issue facing the country. Health care was the second most cited issue with 19 percent of potential Democratic voters and 12 percent of potential Republican voters saying it is the most serious issue facing the United States.
The election issues poll was conducted by telephone between October 2 and October 14, 2007, by Woelfel Research. The margin of error for 532 potential voters in the Democratic primary is + 4.3 percent, and the margin of error for the 361 potential voters in the Republican primary is + 5.2 percent.
Financial security emerges as a critical voting issue to potential voters in both party primaries. More than nine in 10 AARP potential primary voters say that issues related to financial security such as Social Security, incentives for savings and investment, and pension protection will be important to their votes. This issue is very important to 75 percent of potential voters in the Democratic primary and to 70 percent of potential voters in the Republican primary.
How well candidates address issues
“The issues of health care and lifetime financial security cut across party lines,” Parham said. “Yet, potential voters say they don’t know enough about candidates positions on those two issues. Candidates have a large window of opportunity to bring their message to these voters – something that could have an impact on the outcome of the race in Florida.”