weekly blog--one for the ages
While analysts point to increased energy among younger voters over the past couple of elections, people over 65 continue to show up at the polls far more than any other age group. According to the experts, older people are more likely to view voting as a responsibility and to care about a broad range of issues, not just those commonly associated with aging. They are also more connected to their communities, which makes them more likely to vote.
In CNN surveys conducted in early August and early September, registered voters who are 65 years of age and up preferred Democratic congressional candidates to Republicans by margins of 20 and 16 percentage points, respectively. This is a potentially huge problem for Republicans: In the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections when Republicans regained control of the House and Senate, respectively, GOP candidates were solidly backed by voters 65 and up. When Democrats won control of both the House and the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections, they had a narrow advantage among senior voters.
For the upcoming midterms, some places where Republicans could be particularly vulnerable to a Democratic upset are: Florida's 18th Congressional District (Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties), held by first-term Rep. Brian Mast. Florida's 6th Congressional District (Daytona Beach), an open seat formerly held by GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. Arizona's 8th Congressional District (suburban Phoenix), won by Republican Debbie Lesko in a special election in April. Michigan's 1st Congressional District (the Upper Peninsula and the northern tip of the state), represented by first-termer Jack Bergman.
All four of these seats are considered "Likely Republican" in CNN's Key Race ratings, but all four also have a senior population (65+) of more than 20%.
But it may be in the midterm Senate contests where this trend could have its most profound impact. Democrats have six potentially vulnerable Senate incumbents: Florida's Bill Nelson, Indiana's Joe Donnelly, Missouri's Claire McCaskill, Montana's Jon Tester, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.
Four of those states, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, are among the top ten states with the highest proportion of elderly (65+) residents according to the last decennial census. (Missouri was ranked 16th and Indiana ranked 33rd.)
While jobs and the economy are major concerns, there’s one national issue that boomers, Gen Xers and millennials all think is more important right now: honesty in government. Seniors, in particular, tend to prefer a safe and steady pair of hands to guide the ship of state. Upheaval and uncertainty in government policies can also make older voters apprehensive.