AARP warns 2020 presidential candidates: Ignore older voters at your peril

While a lot of emphasis is focused on attracting young voters during election cycles – 2020 candidates might want to turn more attention toward an older demographic: Baby Boomers.

Americans age 65 and over are expected to make up about 23 percent of the electorate in 2020, according to research from The Pew Research Center. That is their largest share since at least 1970.

And while Generation Z will make up one-in-ten eligible voters, researchers noted that – based on historical trends – older Americans are more likely to turn out to vote, which means that older generations could end up accounting for a larger share of actual voters than their share of the electorate.

AARP chief advocacy and engagement officer Nancy LeaMond told FOX Business it would be unwise for candidates to ignore older Americans – and their top concerns.

“Candidates on both sides of the aisle ignore older voters at their peril,” LeaMond said. “Election after election, older Americans show up and vote. They’re not a monolith and not a lock for either party, so we urge candidates to pay attention to their concerns, like the need to curb soaring drug prices.”

In Iowa – an important primary state – the older vote might be even more critical. According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans age 50 and over accounted for 58 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in 2016 – more than one-quarter were over the age of 65.

The Journal also noted that Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received only 26 percent of the 65-and-over vote in 2016, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 69 percent.

AARP – which is one of the largest advocacy groups for older Americans – noted that, historically, older Americans are the “most consistent and reliable group of voters.”

This week, AARP is hosting events featuring 19 of the 2020 Democratic candidates for its members across Iowa. Among the issues expected to be addressed throughout the week include lowering the cost of prescription drug prices and addressing the future of the Medicare and Social Security programs.

“Iowa is the first-in-the-nation caucus, and many Iowans are already fully engaged in the process,” AARP’s senior vice president for campaigns said in a statement. “This gives our members an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates.”


Another unique factor about the 2020 demographic is that nonwhites will account for about one-third of eligible voters – which is the largest share ever.

And while both men and women turned out at record rates for the 2018 midterm elections, women once again turned out at higher rates than men – as reported by the Pew Research Center. The 65 and over demographic was also the only one where men came out to vote in larger numbers than women.

But some 2020 hopefuls may be able to relate well to older voters, since they belong to the same demographic. Sanders, for example, is 77. Former vice president Joe Biden is 76, while Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is 70. President Trump, meanwhile, is 73.