Forbes/NextAve: What Older Voters Want in the Midterm Elections


Older voters could be a decisive bloc in the midterm elections, particularly since recent polls have showed registered voters 65+ leaning decisively towards Democratic congressional candidates, a sharp reversal from previous election cycles.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in September found 73% of “seniors” have the highest level of interest in the midterms, the most of any group. Several other polls also suggest older voters are eager to send Washington a message on three issues that are vital to them: Medicare, prescription drug costs and Social Security.

Most voters 50 and older seem unhappy with both parties in Congress. In a July AARP poll, 60% of likely registered voters over 50 said they disapprove of Republicans there and 57% disapprove of Democrats. These voters were roughly evenly split over President Trump: 50% disapprove of the job he’s doing and 45% approve.

If you have any doubt about the power and zeal of older voters, I suggest you watch the fascinating new documentary, A Greater Society, online. It’s an on-the-ground look at how residents of the 7,500-person Wynmoor Village retirement community in South Florida — political kingmakers dubbed “super-voters” — mobilized to get out the vote in the 2014 elections.

In that election, 60% of older Americans nationwide voted (just 23% of younger voters did). And in 2016, older voters had the highest turnout rate of all age groups: 71%. “It’s a voting demo that can make an impact on elections,” said Stacy Goldate, A Greater Society‘s co-director and co-producer.

“We went in not realizing how massive these Democratic and Republican clubs are” at Florida retirement communities, said Craig Colton, the film’s co-director and co-producer. “You get into their ballrooms and there are hundreds of people in these meetings. It was a complete eye opener. These were massive.”

Ronny Sydney, Wynmoor’s rabble-rousing Democratic leader in 2014 and a former member of the Massachusetts state legislature, told me:  “All the candidates come to us.”

Goldate and Sydney said Medicare and Social Security were huge concerns for Wynmoor residents then and now. The same is true for older voters across America. “People who understand how important those programs are, and people who are benefiting from them, are voters,” said Goldate.

 

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