Even though 90 percent of older Americans believe that the country has become too divided, new AARP battleground state polls show that the support of voters age 65-plus is very much up for grabs because their concern for the coronavirus and health care overall transcends partisanship.
AARP released the full results Tuesday of two sets of public opinion surveys designed to gauge what issues are driving the votes of those age 50-plus and what their main concerns are, as well as who they support for president and U.S. Senate. Voters were asked where they stand on a range of concerns — from cuts to Social Security, to the coronavirus, to the debate over racial justice and law-and-order priorities.
By overwhelming margins, older voters in 11 states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) with competitive races for president and U.S. Senate say they are more likely to vote for candidates who promise to protect Social Security benefits and strengthen Medicare. Four years ago, President Donald Trump carried voters 65-plus by 13 points. The AARP polls show that among voters in that age group the race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden remains close, as do a number of U.S. Senate contests.
“There are foundational programs that cut across all partisan divisions,” says John Hishta, AARP senior vice president for campaigns. “And they are, notably Social Security and Medicare, issues that the 50-plus care deeply about, no matter where you stand politically. And it shows that the candidates should be addressing those issues with these voters.”
The polls also show that older Americans plan to continue a long-standing tradition of heavy voter turnout, regardless of concerns over whether the coronavirus could impede their ability to vote safely. AARP’s robust Protect Voters 50+ campaign is designed to reach these voters in each state to make sure they know how to cast a safe and secure ballot.
“Older voters are taking a look at the voting process and making personal decisions on how they want to vote — either absentee through the mail or by going to the polls and voting,” Hishta says. “The interest in this election is incredibly high and the coronavirus is not going to stop them.”