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Trump Is Losing Old People to Biden in Battleground States

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A new poll shows President Donald Trump trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 30 points among older voters in Michigan. If the trend holds in other battleground statesand recent numbers suggest it mightthen the Trump 2020 reelection campaign is in deep trouble. Americans aged 65 and older reliably show up to vote in larger numbers than their younger counterparts and tend to vote more conservatively.

“A Democratic candidate has not won voters over the age of 65 in two decades, and in 2016 Trump beat Clinton in that group by 8 points,” points out Forbes. “In 2012, Mitt Romney won seniors by 12 points over Obama (56%-44%), and John McCain edged out Obama by 8 points in 2008 (53%-45%), according to exit polls.”

Back in early September, Michigan residents 65 and up only marginally preferred Biden, with the former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate beating Trump by 7.5 percent among this group (with a 4-point margin of error).

But a new WDIV/Detroit News poll conducted between September 30 and October 3 found that Trump has lost 22 points with older voters since then. In the latest poll, 59.1 percent of older Michigan voters supported Biden, while just 29.2 percent supported Trump.

“This is a five-alarm fire for the president’s campaign, if true,” tweeted NBC News’ Sahil Kapur.

Older Michigan voterswho overwhelmingly say they plan to vote by mail this yearpreferred Biden regardless of gender, with Biden making especially big gains among older white men. “White men over 65 have shifted by 22.1% since early September with Biden now holding an 8.8% lead,” notes Detroit’s WDIV Local 4 News. “White women over 65 have shifted by 17.6% with Biden now holding a 15.4% lead.”

Trump still leads among white Michigan voters ages 50 to 64 but appears to be losing ground with that group, too. In the WDIV/Detroit News poll conducted between September 1–3, more than half (51.8 percent) preferred Trump while just 42.2 percent preferred Biden. But in the latest Michigan polling, Biden and Trump were tied at 46 percent among those ages 50-64.

And older voters’ turn away from Trump isn’t merely a Michigan phenomenon. Recent polling in other toss-up states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, found similar shifts.

Older Voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arizona Like Biden

An AARP poll of Floridians found that voters ages 50 and above “are not a lock for either major-party presidential candidate,” with 50 percent going toward Trump to Biden’s 47 percent in a poll (with a 2.2-point margin of error) that was conducted August 30–September 8. Among voters ages 65 and older, however, Trump trailed Biden by just one percentage point.

In the latest New York Times-Siena College Research Institute poll of Pennsylvanians, 53 percent of the oldest voters preferred Biden and 42 percent preferred Trump.

In the group’s poll of Floridians, voters 65 and older were fairly evenly split between the Republican and Democratic candidates, with 47 percent supporting Biden and 45 percent supporting Trump. (Both the Florida and Pennsylvania polls had roughly 4-point margins of error.)

The latest poll of Arizona voters from The New York Times and Siena College Research Institute, conducted October 1–3, found Biden and Trump are extremely close among older voters there, too: 48 percent of those ages 65 and older said they would vote for Biden and 47 percent said they would vote for Trump.

Jorgensen Garners Interest From Millennials and Generation Z

In Arizona, 3 percent of all likely voters surveyed said they support Jo Jorgensen. The Libertarian Party (L.P.) presidential candidate drew the most support in Arizona from young voters, with 8 percent support among the 18- to 29-year-old crowd polled and only 1 percent support from voters 65 and older.

Jorgensen was also the top candidate for 3 percent of survey respondents in the Pennsylvania poll, and top choice for 2 percent in Florida. As in Arizona, Jorgensen attracted support from millennial and Gen Z voters in both states.

While just 1 percent of the oldest cohort in Florida supported Jorgensen, 6 percent of the 30- to 44-year-olds and 4 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds polled did. (Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins was supported by 2 percent of each younger group in the Sunshine State.) In Pennsylvania, 6 percent each of the youngest and second-youngest groups supported Jorgensen, with her support dwindling to 3 percent among 45- to 64-year-olds and zero percent among the oldest group.

So, older voters aren’t fleeing Trump for the L.P. this year; slack seems to be picked up solely by Biden and Democrats.

If older voters prefer Biden in November, it will be a big deal. Remember, voters 65 and above “have gone for Republican presidential candidates since 2004” and “favored Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 52 to 45 percent margin,” as Robert Griffin, research director of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, points out.

He also notes that older voters are more likely to describe Biden than Trump as moderate—which could help explain Biden’s good showing among older Americans. They’re not swinging leftward, it could just be that Trump is a chaos agent and Biden is as status quo as they come.


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In other Supreme Court news: justices ruled yesterday (with no dissents) to allow South Carolina Republicans “to reinstate the state’s witness-signature requirement on absentee ballots pending appeal.” More here.


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About The Author

Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

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