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Voters Divided? Among AARP Members, Not So Much

October 18, 2010

BOSTON - The needs of Bay Staters 50 and older trump partisan divisions, according to a nationwide poll of AARP members likely to vote in next month's midterm elections. The group employed two firms, one affiliated with the Democrats and one with the Republicans, to jointly conduct the survey. AARP legislative director Bill Ferris says that on issues such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicare fraud, the partisan divide was small.

"Regardless if the AARP member is a Republican, or if they're a Democrat, it really showed that our membership does want solutions, and they don't want political bickering, and they don't want gridlock in Washington."

Differences did remain, though. Asked whether or not they thought their children would be better off than they were, Democrats among the AARP members were more confident than Republicans by a count of 42 percent to eight percent.

AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond says she was struck by what the survey told her about a joint concern for the needs of older Americans on both sides of the political aisle.

"No matter how you describe your political stripes and no matter where you live, you are looking to the candidates to talk about the need to strengthen Social Security, strengthen the Medicare program, and provide these for not just current retirees but future retirees."

Like most advocacy groups, older Americans are driven at the ballot box by the issues that affect them most. Bill Ferris says that in the case of his organization, they also appear to be motivated by a concern for future generations.

"We found in our survey that not only are AARP members concerned about Social Security and Medicare for themselves, but they're also concerned that these programs remain strong for their children and their grandchildren."

AARP also released an analysis of voting trends since 1994 that predict that this November two-thirds of voters will be 45 or older.

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