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Survey Highlights Priorities for 50+ in Key WA Congress Race

The country's most consistent voting bloc, people age 50 and older, will likely decide Washington's state most hotly-contested congressional race. (Keith Brofsky/Coffee Party USA)
The country's most consistent voting bloc, people age 50 and older, will likely decide Washington's state most hotly-contested congressional race. (Keith Brofsky/Coffee Party USA)
October 10, 2018

AUBURN, Wash. - What are the priorities of older Washingtonians in one of the country's most closely-watched midterm congressional races?

An AARP Washington survey out today focused on people 50 and older in the state's 8th Congressional District, which is an open seat after U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert decided to retire this year. It found that more than 90 percent of respondents believe Medicare is important for people's health in retirement, more than 80 percent believe Social Security is important, and more than 70-percent are concerned about prescription drug costs.

AARP Washington state director Doug Shadel said the results are no surprise.

"It's just a reinforcement of what the candidates probably already know," he said, "that they need to make sure that Medicare, Social Security are there for us, and that we do something about the soaring cost of prescription drugs."

Multiple polls show former state Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, and a first-time Democratic candidate, pediatrician Kim Schrier, are in a dead heat in this race. Reichert has been the district's congressman since 2004. More than half of survey respondents said political divisiveness is a major concern, and they believe the U.S. economy is getting stronger, although three-quarters say the economic success isn't helping them.

Older voters consistently turn out in the highest numbers. In 2016, Census numbers show people older than 65 had the highest voting rates, with more than 70 percent casting ballots, and those ages 45 to 65 not far behind. Shadel said that makes this population a powerful part of the electorate.

"The older voter is probably the single most important voting bloc in any election, and this year's election is no exception," he said. "So, candidates running for office really ought to pay attention to what those 50-plus voters are thinking and what their priorities are."

AARP is sponsoring the only debate between Rossi and Schrier at Central Washington University on Oct. 17. The Washington State Debate Coalition is hosting this contest.

The poll results are online at aarp.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA