How older voters are approaching the election and pandemic
Third Way's Matt Bennett welcomed AARP Executive Vice President & Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, Nancy LeaMond, for a virtual discussion on the topic of older voters.
At 38 million strong, AARP’s membership includes this important political constituency and therefore they spend a LOT of time listening to 50+ Americans and looking at data to understand their concerns. During this pivotal election year—and in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic that targets older people in particular—AARP believes it’s more important than ever that politicians and policymakers do the same.
You can find the presentation HERE. Below is a summary of some of the main points Nancy covered.
3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OLDER VOTERS:
- Older Americans consistently vote in large numbers in election after election. While Americans 50+ represent 45% of the voting age population, they regularly make up more than HALF the electorate.
- Older voters are not a monolith or a lock for either party. Republicans shouldn’t take them for granted, and Democrats shouldn’t write them off. The 50+ swung for Donald Trump by about 7 points in 2016, but older voters also powered the Democratic House takeover in 2018.
- Older voters care about more than Social Security and Medicare. For example, before COVID-19, AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE was the #1 issue across party lines.
4 POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND ABOUT OLDER VOTERS RIGHT NOW:
- Older Americans are taking the pandemic seriously and are focused on health and safety.
- They are also concerned about financial security.
- They are paying attention to both pandemic news AND the presidential election.
- They are excited to vote – but the jury’s out on HOW they’ll vote and when they’ll make their final decisions, as so far this year older voters have been making up their minds late.
A CRITICAL VOTER SUBGROUP TO WATCH: OLDER WOMEN. WHY?
- They are a significant voting demographic. Nearly 37 million women 50+ voted in the 2018 midterms – that’s 30% of all Americans who went to the polls.
- They “punch above their weight” in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Florida, making up a larger share of the electorate than their proportion of the state’s population.
- Most important, older women have the power to swing elections. Women 50+ were key to Democrats retaking the House in 2018, powered by overwhelming support (94%) for Democrats among older African-American women, two-thirds (64%) support among older Hispanic/Latina women, and majority support (57%) among older white, college educated women.
Please reach out to Nancy if you’d like to discuss any of this data in more detail. Her email address is included on the opening slide of the presentation.