It seems there are polls out every day regarding the socio-political climate 2016 voters are being faced with. Next Avenue is a public media service tailored to Americans over the age of 50. They have recently compiled data from an interest group concerned about the big picture of our country: the interest group of people age 50 and older. Combined with information from a Gallup Poll, this survey helps showcase what older Americans have to say about issues of greatest socio-political concern and Baby Boomers’ political clout.
How Socio-Political Concerns Measured up
Participants in Next Avenue’s survey on 2016 election issues were asked to rank in order the issues that were most important to them. A noteworthy trend was found that overwhelmingly placed more than half of the respondents, 67% of them to be exact, as ranking issues related to aging as very important to them and as weighing heavily in how they cast their vote in November.
…concerned more about the world their children and grandchildren would inherit…
That shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but aging concerns were not the most pressing concern. It only ranked fifth in the overall results. Rather, financial security (the economy), health care, and drug costs ranked as the biggest worries of older Americans. The least worrying of issues were immigration and terrorism. Climate change came in fairly high, which confirmed what many participants echoed: they were concerned more about the world their children and grandchildren would inherit than about other issues primarily affecting them.
The matter of how much government should be involved in the process of meeting older Americans’ needs is an issue. In general, Democrats favor more government intervention than less and Republicans vice versa.
As far as the Democratic vs. Republican demographic of the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946-1964), the most recent Gallup poll has the two parties vying for the top spot. The truth of the matter is that even within the Baby Boomer generation, different years bring about a different tilt. Those born at the beginning and the end of the generation lean Republican, while those born in the middle lean Democratic. In relation to the entire adult population, of which they make up roughly 32%, they were only slightly less Democratic, but Democratic all the same.
However, when it came to drug costs, even Republicans see an important government role. Next Avenue found that 84% of seniors surveyed were strongly in favor of the federal government stepping in to better manage and drastically reduce the costs of all prescription drugs. A further 12% supported the notion that the federal government should be at least somewhat involved in addressing this critical concern where many older Americans are faced with choosing between their medications and paying bills, something they want future generations to not have to contend with.
Addressing Health Care Concerns
When it came to the nitty-gritty of health care, many concerns were raised about Alzheimer’s research, fighting age-related discrimination, and greater support for family caregivers. Yet the greatest concerns participants of the survey chose were Social Security availability, Medicare availability, and overall affordable health care for all older Americans.
Older Americans pride themselves on being able to be mostly self-reliant.
That said, there was quite a consensus that the primary responsibility for taking care of the elderly population should fall to family and even to themselves, not the government. Older Americans pride themselves on being able to be mostly self-reliant. The consensus also was that taxes should be decreased so those still employed and the rising generations would be able to better save for the future, something they realized was becoming harder and harder to do.
According to the Gallup poll, which is the latest taken on the subject, the Baby Boomer generation made up around 36% of the electorate in the 2012 election. The Baby Boomer generation will hold a disproportionate number of votes for the next 20 or so years, so their concerns can sway elections. Fortunately, unity is one of their top recurring themes. The importance of unity was echoed in all responses, no matter what the political approach to proposed solutions. Older Americans realize our country is strongest when we are the most united.
Logeland, Denise. What Older Voters Care About (2016). Next Avenue. PBS. Available at http://www.nextavenue.org/what-older-voters-care-about-now/. Last Visited February 18, 2016.
Newport, Frank, Jones, Jeffrey M., Saad, Lydia. (January 23, 2014). Baby Boomers to Push U.S. Politics in the Years Ahead. Gallup. Available at http://www.gallup.com/poll/167012/baby-boomers-push-politics-years-ahead.aspx. Last Visited February 18, 2016.