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She's the Difference: South Carolina Survey Results

A new survey in AARP’s She’s the Difference series explores the concerns of women voters ages 50 and older in South Carolina, a crucial primary state. Below are some highlights from the poll. 

On Voting

Democratic women voters ages 50 and older in South Carolina are highly motivated to vote. 

More than 9 in 10 (93%) self-identified Democratic older women voters say they will at least probably vote, with nearly 8 in 10 (79%) saying they will definitely vote.

On Healthcare

Healthcare is a primary concern across party lines for South Carolina’s older women voters. 

No matter who stands for election next November, leaders will need to find ways to better address concerns over healthcare — the most important issue among women voters ages 50 and older in South Carolina and across the nation.

  • Older women in South Carolina believe healthcare is the most important issue facing the country (34%), ahead of terrorism (27%) and immigration (26%).
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) older women voters in South Carolina give elected officials a D or an F grade on dealing with the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs.
  • Majorities have an unfavorable view of pharmaceutical companies (65%) and health insurance companies (54%).
  • Across party lines, these South Carolina voters agree that drug companies charging too much for medication is the number one reason for rising healthcare costs. 

For many women voters ages 50 and older in South Carolina, healthcare costs are both a personal and pocketbook issue.

  • 70% know someone without health insurance (79% among African American women).
  • 35% say they can’t afford to pay for their healthcare.
  • 34% say they have skipped medical care because it was too expensive.
  • 26% have rationed prescription medications due to high costs.
  • 22% have gone into debt because of high medical costs.

On Financial Security

Many older women voters in South Carolina have concerns over their financial security and would like to see a stronger Social Security system.

  • Overall, only 17% are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, a figure that is lower for African American women (6%), those living in small towns or rural areas (10%), and those living with a disability (11%).
  • Social Security is by far the primary source of income that these South Carolina voters plan to rely on as they get older (78%), but insufficient Social Security benefits are also the primary reason that older women voters are not confident in their retirement (68%).
  • Healthcare costs and disabilities also weigh on older women voter’s financial confidence: Among those who aren’t confident they will be able to live comfortably throughout their retirement, 41% say a primary reason is healthcare costs, and 32% say they or someone in their family have a disability.
  • Older women voters in South Carolina show strong bipartisan support for strengthening Social Security: 93% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans agree that we should strengthen Social Security so every American has a chance to retire.


The Harris Poll conducted this online and phone survey on behalf of AARP December 5–25, 2019. The sample has 1,000 registered women voters ages 50 and older in South Carolina.

The data from phone and online interviews were combined and weighted to reflect known demographics. The data are weighted to the population of female South Carolina residents ages 50 and older using population benchmarks from the Census Bureau’s March 2019 Current Population Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 National Health Interview Survey.

Weighting by education, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, marital status, household income, employment status, and landline/cell phone usage bring these data into line with the actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online to ensure representativeness among the online respondents.

For telephone respondents, number of phone lines, recent phonelessness, and number of adults in the household were also included to account for probability of selection. Raked weights are estimated using random iterative method weighting.

For more information, contact Rachelle Cummins at For media inquiries, contact


Suggested citation:

The Harris Poll. She's the Difference: South Carolina Survey Results. Washington, DC: AARP Research, February 2020.

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On the Minds of Older Voters

Older voters worry most about how divided America and Americans have become, prices rising faster than their income, and not being able to afford health care.

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