AARP Poll: Economy, Social Security Are Top Issues for Colorado Voters 50+ — Most Say Country on Wrong Track

Posted on 09/15/20 by Dena Bunis

chart showing that in colorado senate race forty nine percent of voters aged fifty plus support cory gardner and forty seven percent support john hickenlooper

En español | Jobs and the economy are the most important issues for Colorado voters age 50 and older in voting for a U.S. Senate candidate, followed by Social Security and health care, according to a new AARP poll that shows older Americans could decide the 2020 elections.

The full results of the AARP poll, released Tuesday, find that 64 percent of voters 50-plus believe the country is on the wrong track, while 28 percent say it is moving in the right direction. Eighty-five percent say jobs and the economy is their top issue, followed by 83 percent who cite health care.

To see more about how Hispanics responded, click here.

Those voters worry most about having to pay too much in taxes (56 percent), prices rising faster than their incomes (56 percent) and the coronavirus (55 percent).

Colorado voters 50-plus are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports protecting Medicare from cuts and ensuring America’s seniors get the health care they need (88 percent), allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices (87 percent) and protecting Social Security from benefit cuts (84 percent).

These results show that, despite the strong partisan divisions in the country, “there are some foundational programs that cut across these divisions — notably Social Security and Medicare,” says John Hishta, AARP senior vice president for campaigns. “These are areas that 50-plus voters care deeply about, no matter where they stand. And it shows that the candidates should be addressing those issues with these voters.”

Other key findings of the poll:

  • Colorado voters 50-plus are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports protecting Medicare from cuts and ensuring America’s seniors get the health care they need (88 percent), allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices (87 percent) and protecting Social Security from benefit cuts (84 percent).
  • Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who is focused on maintaining law and order and preventing looting and rioting in America’s cities (52 percent) than one who would concentrate on increasing racial justice and reducing police violence against unarmed African Americans (40 percent).
  • A majority (51 percent) say they are not concerned that an expansion of mail balloting will lead to voter fraud compared with those who are concerned (47 percent).
  • Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who is focused on rebuilding the economy by reopening businesses (49 percent) than those focused on keeping families healthy and reducing the spread of coronavirus in their community (45 percent).
  • Forty-seven percent say they or someone in their household know someone who has contracted the coronavirus.

Earlier results from the poll, released last week, found that freshman Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, are in a statistical dead heat among voters 50-plus. But among all Centennial State voters, the poll finds that Hickenlooper leads the incumbent 51 percent to 46 percent. Gardner, 46, is a former state lawmaker and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Hickenlooper, 68, is a former two-term governor of Colorado who also served two terms as mayor of Denver. The closely watched race could help decide whether the GOP retains control of the U.S. Senate or Democrats gain the majority.

In the presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow 48 percent to 46 percent lead over President Donald Trump among Colorado likely voters age 50 and over, while Biden holds a 10-point (50 percent-40 percent) lead over the president among all voters surveyed.

The survey also shows that the majority of older Colorado voters — 54 percent — plan to use the absentee ballot that state election officials automatically send to all those registered. Of those polled, 20 percent say they will vote in person during the early voting period and 15 percent will go to a polling place on Election Day, Nov. 3. Colorado was one of five states that routinely practiced voting by mail before the coronavirus pandemic had led to an expanded use of absentee balloting. 

The survey found that Colorado’s voters over age 50 are very worried about their votes being counted. A 62 percent majority said they were very or somewhat concerned and 37 percent said they were not concerned that reductions by the U.S. Postal Service are going to prevent votes from being counted in November. 

AARP’s Protect Voters 50+ campaign is designed to help make sure that, even as America continues to deal with the coronavirus crisis, all voters get the information they need to safely cast their ballot.

“One thing we know is that virtually all older voters plan to vote this year,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “They want to vote; they want their voices heard and they’re going to find a way to do that that’s safe,” she said. AARP is working in every state to educate older voters on voting options.

“We believe 50-plus voters are going to play a critical role in this year’s election,” LeaMond said. She pointed out that while Americans age 50 and older comprise 45 percent of the voting population, they accounted for 56 percent of the ballots cast in 2016. “They punch above their weight,” LeaMond added.

AARP commissioned the bipartisan polling team of Fabrizio Ward & Hart Research to conduct polls in five states with key U.S. Senate races, including Colorado. The firms interviewed 1,600 likely Colorado voters, which includes a statewide representative sample of 800 likely voters, with oversamples of 400 likely voters age 50 and older, and 400 Hispanic likely voters age 50 and older, between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5. The interviews were conducted via landline and cellphone. The margin of sampling error for the 800 statewide sample is plus or minus 3.5 percent; for the 749 total sample of voters 50+ is plus or minus 3.6 percent; and for the 466 total sample of Hispanic voters 50+ is plus or minus 4.6 percent.

Also of Interest

This story is provided by AARP Colorado. Visit the AARP Colorado page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.