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Women Age 50-plus are the Voters to Watch in Pennsylvania

The 2024 election season is heating up which means that all eyes are on the critical battleground states, including Pennsylvania. With the presidency and control of Congress on the line, candidates should pay close attention to the commonwealth’s population of voters age 50 and over.

Simply put, older voters are the Commonwealth’s most reliable voters, casting the majority of ballots in election after election. In 2020, Pennsylvania voters age 50 and up were 55% of the electorate, and more than 6 out of 10 voters in the 2022 mid-terms were in this age group.

This cycle will likely be no different with a new AARP poll showing that eighty-five percent of voters age 50-plus say they are extremely motivated to vote in this election compared to 59% of voters age 18-49.

And, digging deeper into the data, it’s a good bet that older WOMEN will be the critical voting bloc that determines the outcome. They are a big group – just under 30% of likely voters and more than half (53%) of likely voters age 50-plus – who are highly motivated and more evenly divided by party than their male counterparts.

At this point in the race, Pennsylvania women age 50 and over are also split on their choice of presidential candidates, with 48% favoring President Joe Biden (D) while 47% support former President Donald Trump (R). Meanwhile, Senator Bob Casey (D) leads challenger Dave McCormick by an 11 point margin with this group, highlighting a 26 point gender gap as men age 50plus prefer McCormick by 15 points.

But, the election is a little more than five months away, which, as the saying goes, is a lifetime in politics. So, it may be most useful to look at the issues and concerns that are top of mind and likely to influence older women’s decisions in November.

Kitchen table budget and retirement security issues loom large, with 69% of older women saying that they are worried about their personal financial situations and 56% ranking one of a set of personal economic issues – inflation; the economy and jobs; or Social Security – among the top two issues that will decide their vote for Senate. In terms of rising prices, the cost of utilities, food, and healthcare top the list of concerns, with food and healthcare, including prescription drugs, standing out for the all-important subgroup of suburban women 50-plus.

Additionally, a whopping 84% of Pennsylvania women 50-plus, say that Social Security is important to their vote in November. This includes significant majorities of women across party lines (82% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats), of both pre- and post-retirement age (79% of women age 50-64 and 89% of women 65-plus), and so on down the line looking at education, where folks live, and other demographics – highlighting just how critical Social Security is to women’s financial security.

That’s one reason why AARP is asking every candidate running for federal office in Pennsylvania and around the country what they plan to do to protect Social Security if elected. We’re also asking how they will support the folks who help take care of aging parents, spouses, and other adult loved ones – another issue that is important to older Pennsylvanians. A little more than three-quarters (76%) of voters 50-plus, including 81% of women 50-plus, say they’d be more likely to vote for a U.S. Senate candidate who advocated for policies to support these family caregivers.

Throughout this election season, we’ll be continuing to highlight these issues and urge candidates to address the priorities and concerns of older voters across the Commonwealth.

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