The Battle for the Senior Vote
Posted on October 11, 2016
The presidential election is just a month away. The
candidates are preparing their strategies to secure as many votes as
possible. Which group do the candidates want to win over in this election?
Senior citizens. Over the last 20 years, seniors
have had the highest voter turnout over any other age group.
So what are seniors concerned about in this election?
Surveys show that seniors care about Social Security, healthcare, and national
candidates not only have different policies, but
vary in their engagement with seniors.
Hilary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and
senator of New York, sees herself as “a champion for families.” She is the
first woman to win the nomination from a major political party. Clinton plans
to expand government programs for seniors to better serve their needs.
Social Security. In this program, Clinton plans to increase special benefits for
widows and caregivers. She promises not to raise the retirement age during her
Healthcare. She plans to protect the Affordable Care Act and lower the cost of
prescription drugs. Medicare will be available for everybody regardless of
National Security. Clinton plans to enforce stricter background checks on gun control. She
will maintain current alliances due to the newer threats of the 21st century.
To gain support from seniors, Clinton recruits them as
campaign volunteers. These volunteers visit retirement homes and speak to
other seniors about Clinton’s goals. This method worked best in Florida,
the state with the largest retirement community.
In speeches, Clinton talks about her joy as a new
grandmother to connect on an emotional level. To persuade older women, Clinton
reminds them that she could be the first female president in the country. Her
strategy appears to be working. Recent surveys show that more seniors
favor Clinton over Trump.
The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is a successful
businessman in real estate and television. He’s new to politics, but
Trump proves to be popular with his brash and bold personality.
Supporters see his inexperience as an advantage because he is an outsider to
politics. Trump wants to engage the free market and economy to best serve the
Social Security. Trump won’t end nor expand the program. Instead of using
government money, he plans to fund Social Security by increasing jobs.
Healthcare. Trump plans to allow interstate health insurance sales without
restrictions. He believes the competition will encourage companies to lower
their prices. Federal funding will only be for rural health services.
National Security. Trump plans to increase military spending to combat terrorism,
especially ISIS. He wants foreign allies with U.S. bases to pay off the
Trump relies on inviting seniors to his public
rallies to win the senior vote. Here, his public speaking abilities energize the
older audience. Trump focuses on seniors who believe the country has gotten
worse over the years. To these voters, the government has failed them.
Trump caters to their disappointment by criticizing
the current state of the economy. He repeatedly blames President Obama’s
administration for ruining the country. In speeches, Trump connects to seniors’
strong sense of patriotism using his slogan “Make America Great Again.” This
strategy was most effective in Pennsylvania, where Trump won over former
Gary Johnson is the former governor of New
Mexico. According to Johnson, minimal government intervention and support is
best for our country. His policies aim to prevent government programs from taking
advantage of seniors.
Social Security. Johnson will raise the retirement age to 72 years old. He won't
remove the program, but plans to introduce personal accounts.
Healthcare. Johnson wants the states to have majority control over
Medicare. He plans to have a free market healthcare system. That way,
insurance companies will compete on the lowest prices.
National Security. Johnson plans to cut military spending. He believes American
intervention in the Middle East has worsened terrorism. Although he seeks
military cuts, he promises not to take anything from veteran benefits.
Johnson and the Libertarian Party have no campaign
plans for the senior vote. Surveys show that his policies are unpopular with
the older population. Johnson's policies would cut out programs
preferred by many seniors.
Dr. Jill Stein is a former Harvard professor and
physician. Stein believes large corporations have corrupted the government and
that the current system takes advantage of seniors. Stein aims to increase
government support for seniors and military spending to defeat terrorism.
Social Security. Stein desires to keep Social Security. Stein wants to tax the
wealthy at a higher rate to fund the program. She will prohibit any corporate
partnership with the program.
Healthcare. Stein plans to have a universal healthcare system funded by the
government. She wishes to invest in programs that promote healthy
National Security. Stein hopes to put a weapons embargo on the Middle East region to
combat terrorism. She wants citizens to take part in military
decision-making alongside the government.
Stein and the Green Party have no campaign strategy to
gain the senior vote. They focus on millennials, who make up the core of their
supporters. Because of her lack of attention on seniors, Stein may have a tough
time winning the senior vote.
LISTEN TO THEIR VOICES
Regardless of their views, seniors want assurance that retirement
policies will improve their lives. Candidates
shouldn’t just talk about their goals; they need to reach out more to seniors. Their
high turnout rate isn’t by chance. Seniors know they have the power to decide
the next president. For this election, the senior vote is a vote worth fighting
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