June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am ET
Americans over the age of 65 – typically referred to as seniors – represent one of the most important voting blocks in the nation. In fact, 2014 voter turnout data from the midterm elections show nearly a quarter of U.S. voters were age 65 and older – up from 16 percent in 2012.[i]
And while it is widely believed that millions of seniors exercise their right to vote, the issues they prioritize in selecting a candidate might not be as commonly understood.
A national poll of seniors’ opinions sponsored by Bring The Vote Home – an initiative launched in 2013 to help senior citizens, disabled Americans, their family members, and their healthcare clinicians participate in the electoral process – this month illustrates that seniors are highly educated and opinionated on a range of policy issues including national security, the economy, and immigration.
Bring The Vote Home’s focus is to make the voter registry and ballot completion process more accessible to American seniors. Million of elderly Americans – including the nation’s 3.5 million homebound Medicare home health patients – are often unable to travel to their local polling location due to their homebound status.
The Bring The Vote Home survey is unique in that it specifically seeks to determine the political viewpoints and concerns of American seniors who are registered voters. The data also underscores the value of senior voters to the electorate.
One of the poll’s most notable findings was that almost three-fourths – 72 percent – of American seniors surveyed responded that the country was on the wrong track, signaling a desire for change in the next electoral cycle.
When focusing on the policy issues of greatest concern to older Americans, surprising results were revealed. The largest cohort of respondents chose the Islamic State known as ISIS as the most important issue facing the country today. Of the issues raised with seniors, they ranked as follows:
When asked specifically about the top set of issues in mind when casting a vote for federal officials in the U.S. Senate and Congress, the results were consistent with prior findings, with Senior’s Issues – such as Social Security and Medicare – ranking highest, followed by economic and security issues:
Politically, the poll found that seniors currently favor Republican Congressional candidates (44%) over their Democratic counterparts (35%). And in head-to-head Presidential matchups, seniors also expressed a preference for Republicans Jeb Bush and Scott Walker over Democrat Hillary Clinton if the 2016 General election were held today.
In total, the Bring The Vote Home survey provides an important measure of senior Americans’ views as we approach the upcoming election. As an initiative to assist homebound seniors and all members of the home healthcare community participate fully in our nation’s democratic process, Bring The Vote Home is also empowering seniors across the country to register to vote to ensure their views – like the ones illustrated in this recent poll – are taken into account.
Eric Berger is the CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a coalition of the nation’s leading innovators of home healthcare dedicated to improving the integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare.