Everyone "knows" that young voters are strongly Democratic and seniors are strongly Republican. But maybe what everyone "knows" isn't really right. Yes, young people are heavily Democratic. That observation is correct. But seniors aren't quite as conservative as some people thought. AARP did some polling of voters over 50 in the 63 most competitive House districts last year and found some surprising results. In the early summer, Republicans had a solid lead over the Democrats in those districts 50% to 40%, as expected. But on Election Day, voters over 65 in those districts went for the Democrats 49% to 46%. Now, this is more of an apples to pineapples comparison since the age ranges on the two dates weren't identical, but still, Democrats weren't clobbered among seniors in these swing districts.
Nevertheless, there was clearly a shift. A progressive group called The Third Act was created to try to get seniors to vote Democratic. It worked hard all summer and fall and maybe had some success. One point it pounded on is the Republicans plans to weaken Social Security and Medicare. For 40% of seniors, Social Security is their only income. It's not a hard sell once the seniors understand the Republicans' plans.
But it turns out there is more: Dobbs. What? 70-year-old women are worried about not being able to get an abortion if grandpa gets too frisky, right? It's not that, but women now in their 70s were in their 20s when Roe was decided. Many of them were active in the abortion movement and fought for it. They were ecstatic when the Roe decision came down. It was hugely important to them. They considered it a huge victory for women's rights. And now—poof—it's gone. One of the biggest achievements of their generation is now up in smoke. They are not too happy about this. And of course, more personally, some of them have granddaughters in their 20s now and they may have heard from their granddaughters what they think of the Republicans.
The top concern in 2022 for older women was threats to democracy, but abortion also played a big role. Among Black women, 66% said abortion was a big factor in who they voted for. Among Latinos it was 61% and among white women it was 48%. Women who said abortion was the biggest issue for them voted for Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin. These people won't be around forever, but most of them will be around in 2024, and they will vote in huge numbers. (V)