In elections senior citizens rock

Young people in New Jersey have recently been a driving force in politics, advocating for gun legislation, immigration rights, marijuana legislation, taking over Republican held congressional seats, and more. Nonetheless, they have historically voted in much lower numbers than older Americans,  

“It’s all your fault! Trump wouldn’t be president if you millennials had gone out to vote!”

Candidates in the current election cycle ignore senior citizens at their own risk. Americans over age 50 span the generations, and they care about a wide range of topics, issues and policies. According to the US Census Bureau In 2016, citizens 65 years and older reported higher turnout (70.9 percent) than 45- to 64-year-olds (66.6 percent), 30- to 44-year-olds (58.7 percent) and 18- to 29-year-olds (46.1 percent).

The absence of youth is most pronounced in elections at the local level. Disparities in turnout – already vast in presidential and congressional elections – are even greater in contests that decide who runs the nation’s cities. Teaneck, for example, holds an election on May 8 for four council members who in turn elect the mayor. In the 2016 council election in a city of 39,260 people,  the three winners received only  2,600 to 3,200 votes.

We are just six months out from a monumental election with the opportunity to pick up five congressional seats. Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug prices and health insurance are all under fire from Republicans. You can count on people over 50 to scurry to their polling places. The younger generation is less concerned about these issues and less likely to cast a ballot.  

 In a March 2017 Benenson Strategy Group poll for AARP of people 50 years and older:  

  • They were skeptical about the GOP heath plan; 
  • Strong majorities overall and of Trump voters want Medicaid expansion preserved;
  • Anger towards prescription drug pricing is high overall – and among Tump voters; 
  • Letting Medicare negotiate RX prices is more important to Trump’s voters than restructuring It;  
  • And there Is overwhelming opposition to GOP Medicare Plan. 

A 2014 Gallup study indicated seniors had moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. However, as the skeptical and angry seniors express above in the 2016 poll, it clear they are now more attuned to key Democratic policies. They may have been successfully wooed in the past by their Republican Representatives. Today these are people who our Democratic candidates need to court and even help with transportation if necessary to get them to their polling places. Better yet, provide them with a Vote by Mail application form.

My two favorite presidential candidates in 2020 

     Bernie Sanders (age 76) and Elizabeth Warren (age 68)

 

P.S: For the sake of transparency and fairness I disclose my obviously biased, prejudiced opinion as a senior citizen.  Regardless, seniors rock!

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