The Battle for the Senior Vote

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 security. The candidates not only have different policies, but vary in their engagement with seniors. 

HILARY CLINTON

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Democratic Party

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 term.

Healthcare. She plans to protect the Affordable Care Act and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Medicare will be available for everybody regardless of immigration status.

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.

Clinton’s Strategy

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.

DONALD TRUMP

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Republican Party

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 older population.

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 national debt.

Trump’s Strategy

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 Obama supporters.

GARY JOHNSON

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Libertarian Party

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’s Strategy

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.

JILL STEIN

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Green Party

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 lifestyles.

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’s Strategy

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 for.

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