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The Immense Power of the Older Montana Voter -- Data Shows Older Montanans Likely to Decide 2024 Election

If candidates want to win, they would be wise to pay attention to the issues that matter to 50-plus Montanans


In an election year in which a new issue seems to capture the attention of the American electorate every day, one fact remains constant: If candidates want to win, they’d better pay attention to older voters.

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The turnout of voters over age 50 has significantly outpaced that of younger Montanans. In the 2022 midterm election, for example, 65% of the electorate was 50-plus, compared with 35 percent among 18- to 49-year-olds.

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While analysts point to increased energy among younger voters over the past couple of elections, people over 50 continue to show up at the polls far more than any other age group. At the same time, the number of voters who fall into the category of “older” keeps rising.

See 2022 Montana Voters 50+ Factsheet >>
See 2022 Montana Voters 50+ Factsheet by Congressional District >>

According to the Montana Secretary of State website, Montana consistently has had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation. Additionally, Montana has one of the older populations in the nation. According to WorldAtlas.com, Montana ranks sixth in the nation for "oldest" states with 16.62 percent of its population over 65 years old. When the voting–age population is considered, the percentage of Montanans 65 years and over jumps to 21.4% -- well above the national percentage of voting–age Americans age 65 years and over at 18.9%.

“Candidates from either party need to do well with older voters if they are going to win in the primary or general election,” says Sandy Bailey, AARP Montana State President. "Additionally, candidates need to be focused on the issues that matter to older voters."

Issues that matter to older voters

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"We know from polls and surveys that issues such as property taxes, taxation, healthcare, financial security and independent living are key concerns to older voters," says Tim Summers, AARP Montana State DIrector. "We also know that older voters across the state want their elected officials to address these issues."

AARP Montana released the Vital Voices Survey of 709 Montana residents, age 45 and over. This was a survey that asked respondents a series of questions to get opinions of older Montanans on everything from healthcare to fraud.

  • Independent living and long-term care is a priority issue, with the following being important to Montana adults age 45+:
    • 85% Staying in your own home as you get older
    • 84% Getting to places you need to go independently
    • 83% Being able to afford the costs of owning and maintaining your home
    • 70% Staying in your community as you get older
    • 72% Having affordable housing options in your community
    • 76% Having high quality long-term care in your community
    • 67% Having flexibility in your schedule to care for a loved one
  • Montanans age 45+ are concerned about health and healthcare
    • 97% are concerned about having adequate health insurance coverage
    • 95% are concerned about having Medicare benefits available to them in the future
    • 98% are concerned about staying mentally sharp
    • 95% are concerned about being able to afford health care expenses, including premiums and co-pays
    • 77% are concerned about being able to access health care providers remotely by computer or phone
    • 64% are currently a family caregiver or served as a family caregiver in the past
  • Montanans age 45+ are concerned about financial security
    • 98% are concerned about having adequate Social Security benefits available in the future
    • 96% are concerned about having enough income or savings to retire
    • 96% are concerned about protecting themselves against consumer fraud
    • 79% are concerned about having a way to save for retirement through the workplace
    • 95% are concerned about having affordable heating
  • Montana adults age 45+ want tax relief
    • 77% support eliminating or reducing the tax on Social Security benefits in Montana
    • 70% of registered voters age 45+ in Montana support property tax circuit breakers
    • 68% believe it is extremely or very important that Montana state legislators work to offer significant property tax relief in the next legislative session
    • 64% are concerned about being able to afford property taxes over the next 5 years
  • Montanans age 45+ are concerned about their communities
    • 91% want public buildings and spaces that are safe and accessible to people of different physical abilities
    • 98% want convenient, high quality health care services
    • 80% want access to safe trails and paths for walking, running, and biking
    • 96% want conveniently located grocery stores with affordable healthy food
    • 79% want farmers markets in their communities
    • 86% want a walkable main street downtown area that is made up of local businesses

“We believe older voters will once again play a critical role in the coming election. Older Montanans vote more than any other age group. Older voters also take time to find out where candidates stand on the issues. They want to make sure that the candidates they vote for are really going to represent them. If candidates want to win, they would be wise to pay attention to the issues that matter to 50-plus Montanans," says Bailey.

Online voting guide for Montanans 50+

“The 2024 election season is well underway and we all know that voting rules can be complicated,” said Summers. “Our goal is to inform Montanans 50+ about the how, when and where of voting so they can confidently cast their ballot in the upcoming primary and general elections this year. This is why we created an online 'How to Vote' guide." Find the AARP Montana How To Vote guide at aarp.org/MTVotes.


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