Once again it was voters 50 and older who turned out in larger numbers in the 2022 midterm elections than their younger counterparts. And in many razor-thin congressional elections across the country, it was these voters who decided outcome after outcome, according to a new AARP survey.
The results of AARP’s postelection poll found that 61 percent of ballots cast were by age 50-plus voters in the 63 most competitive races for the U.S. House of Representatives, compared with 39 percent of ballots cast by voters ages 18 to 49.
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The survey also showed that among older voters age 65 and up, there was a significant shift between how they said they planned to vote in an AARP poll this summer and how they actually cast their ballots. In July, 50 percent of 65-plus voters said they supported the Republican candidate, while 40 percent said they would be voting for a Democrat. In the postelection survey, that result flipped: 46 percent of 65-plus voters said they cast their ballots for a Republican while 49 percent went with a Democrat — a 13 percentage point switch toward the Democrats, the largest shift of any age group.
The AARP battleground poll was conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters who surveyed 2,353 adults 18 and older, including 1,903 general election voters and 450 adults who said they did not vote. The survey was conducted via landline, cellphone and text messages between Nov. 9 and 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points for the adults who voted.
John Anzalone of Impact Research, the Democratic pollster, said that when 61 percent of voters are from one voting bloc, “it shows you how powerful they are.” Bob Ward, of the Republican polling firm of Fabrizio Ward, agreed. “They are still the dominant universe of voters. You cannot ignore them.”
“Like a lot of things, voting is something that people get better at with more experience," says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “Older Americans have been through a lot of election cycles. They know where to get information and, even with all the recent changes, they understand how to navigate the voting process. They’ve also seen over the years how the decisions that elected officials make affect their lives.”
Inflation, democracy, abortion top of mind
The survey makes it clear that issues matter to older voters, with both pollsters suggesting that it was these top concerns that moved the 65-plus electorate toward the Democrats in this election.