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Will Seniors' Priorities Be Remembered After Election Day?

In 2016, census numbers showed people ages 65 and older had the highest voter-turnout rate, with more than 70 percent casting ballots. (David Mulder/Flickr)
In 2016, census numbers showed people ages 65 and older had the highest voter-turnout rate, with more than 70 percent casting ballots. (David Mulder/Flickr)
October 17, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - When campaigning in Florida, candidates know to take folks age 50 and older seriously, since they can make or break a candidate's chances of winning - and senior advocates say they're looking for more than lip service.

A recent AARP/Politico poll confirmed that Social Security, the future of Medicare and health care in general will be critical to 50-plus voters as they cast midterm election ballots. All these issues are the subjects of campaign ads, especially in the contentious Florida races for governor and Senate.

Dave Bruns, AARP Florida communications manager, said seniors are fully aware of their power at the polls.

"The candidates are attempting to use these issues to win elections, which is what they always do," he said. "What AARP hopes is that they remember that these issues are critical to older voters, once the election is over."

Florida is widely known as a retirement haven for older Americans, and older voters consistently turn out in the highest numbers. Bruns warned that any candidates who ignore seniors after Election Day will do so at their own peril.

The poll showed that 82 percent of older Floridians said candidates' views on Social Security will be very important to their vote. More than one-third, or 38 percent, said they're worried about health-care expenses over any other issue. In these days of divided politics, Bruns said it's rare to see such wide agreement - and it could translate into results on Election Day.

"The 50-plus voters in Florida decide the election," he said. "They're the ones who turn out to vote and they're the ones who control the outcomes, in the vast majority of cases. We've seen this in election after election after election, going back 50 years."

Other surveys have shown that political divisiveness is another top concern of voters age 50 and older, and many disapprove of the job performances of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

The AARP/POLITICO poll is online at press.aarp.org and the AARP midterm survey is at aarp.org.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL