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AARP AARP States Iowa Voters

AARP Poll: Economy Is Top Issue for Iowa Voters Age 50+ — Most Say Country on Wrong Track

chart showing that in the iowa senate contest fifty percent of voters support republican joni ernst and forty six percent support theresa greenfield

Jobs and the economy is the most important issue for Iowa voters age 50 and older when voting for a U.S. Senate candidate, followed closely by Social Security and health care, a new AARP poll finds. The full results of the AARP poll, released Tuesday, find that 58 percent of voters 50-plus believe the country is on the wrong track, while 36 percent say it is moving in the right direction.

Eighty-four percent say jobs and the economy is their top issue, followed by 81 percent who cited Social Security. And those voters worry most about the coronavirus (58 percent), having to pay too much in taxes (58 percent) and prices rising faster than their incomes (54 percent).

Iowa voters 50-plus are also more likely to vote for a candidate who supports protecting Medicare from cuts and ensuring America’s seniors get the health care they need (91 percent), allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices (86 percent) and protecting Social Security benefit cuts (85 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:

  • A majority of Iowa’s 50-plus 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 (56 percent) than one who is focused on increasing racial justice and reducing police violence against unarmed African Americans (36 percent).
  • A majority (52 percent) say they are not concerned that an expansion of mail balloting will lead to voter fraud compared with those who are concerned (48 percent).
  • Voters are split on whether they are more likely to vote for a candidate who is focused on rebuilding the economy by reopening businesses and getting people back to work (48 percent) or keeping families healthy and reducing the spread of coronavirus in their community (47 percent).
  • A majority (55 percent) say they or someone in their household know someone who has contracted the coronavirus.

Earlier results from the poll, released last week, showed incumbent Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is leading Democrat Theresa Greenfield, a Des Moines businesswoman, in her quest for a second term in the U.S. Senate. Ernst leads Greenfield 50 percent to 46 percent among voters age 50 and over, and is ahead 50 percent to 45 percent among all likely Iowa voters.

In the presidential race, President Donald Trump has a two-point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, among both all likely voters surveyed and voters age 50-plus. Among all Iowans, Trump leads Biden 47 percent to 45 percent. Trump leads Biden 48 percent to 46 percent among likely voters 50-plus.

More older Iowa voters are planning to vote at a polling place than send their ballot in by mail, the poll results show. Among voters age 50-plus, 44 percent plan to send in their ballot, 13 percent say they will vote in person during the early voting period and 39 percent plan to go to a polling place on Election Day.

The survey also found that Iowa voters 50-plus are worried about their votes being counted. A majority (57 percent) said they were very or somewhat concerned, with 42 percent saying they were not concerned that reductions in 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 a 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 what their voting options are.

“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 Iowa. The firms interviewed 1,200 likely Iowa voters, which includes a statewide representative sample of 800 likely voters, with an oversample of 400 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 800 total sample of voters 50+ is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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