August 23, 2007

AARP Poll Shows Fluidity On Both Sides Of The Aisle

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a wide-ranging survey of its membership in five key primary states. Contrary to some analyses of the overall electorate, the AARP found that Democrats and Republicans alike were overwhelmingly open to changing their minds about their favored candidate -- and that the change would most likely come on financial and health-care issues:

Two domestic issues of importance to AARP members - financial security and health care - are explored in depth with questions about how well candidates address each issue and who can best break through special interest and partisan gridlock to make real progress in these areas.

In general, AARP members in all five states are following candidate coverage, but have not settled on presidential preferences which may change as they learn more about candidates' positions on the issues. A majority of respondents planning to participate in the primaries or caucuses of each party say that health care and financial security will be important in their voting decisions. However, large proportions of those surveyed do not yet know enough about candidate positions on financial security and health care to be able to assess them or decide which candidate would best address these issues.

The study itself seems to have been conducted with veracity in mind. The poll sampled almost identical numbers of Democrats and Republicans in each state, as shown on page 9 of the report. Other than age, the demographics appear to be fairly representative of the population at large, with the possible exception of marriage. Large majorities in all states are married, although there still tends to be a ten-point advantage for Republicans among married respondents.

AARP took these polls in the early primary states of Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. Those voters likely to participate in the primaries or caucuses say that they have followed the marathon campaign very closely in ranges between 29% and 46%, and somewhat closely between 42% and 51%. The campaign has their attention, and they have definite opinions about it -- but remain open to change. Sixty-five percent of Democrats say they could switch candidates, while 78% of GOP say the same.

The biggest issue for voters of both parties is Iraq, although that much more true for Democrats than Republicans. For the former, that gets majorities or near-majorities in all five states. For Republicans, it never gets above 33% in any of them. For Republicans, immigration and terrorism fight with health care for second place, while for Democrats, neither immigration nor terrorism get hardly any mention as the most important issue.

Financial issues do not get top billing, either, but voters tell AARP's pollsters that economic policy could change their votes. When asked whether financial issues such as Social Security, Medicare, and pension protection would have an impact on candidate selection, not surprisingly majorities of these older voters answered yes in both parties, especially among Democrats. Rudy Giuliani won those Republican voters in all five states, with John McCain and Mitt Romney duking it out for second place. Hillary Clinton won in four of five states among Democrats, with John Edwards winning Iowa and second place in the rest.

Obviously these are highly debated issues, with the two parties rather far apart. Which candidates did the AARP find most able to bridge the partisan divide? Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, but not with large pluralities.

It's an interesting and well-conducted poll, certainly worth a look. With the AARP claiming that a quarter of the nation's voters belong to AARP, a little temperature-taking seems like a good idea.


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Comments (8)

Posted by FedUp | August 23, 2007 12:44 PM

I lost all respect for the AARP when they touted their spokesperson - Mr. Anti-America
Harry Belefonte!

Posted by Chancellor | August 23, 2007 12:50 PM

Very interesting info - rip on AARP all you want, but their age group has a very high voting turnout and will be most influential on the election. It's very telling that Iraq/GWOT does not show up as influential in changing votes in that large of a demographic.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 23, 2007 1:43 PM

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is lick your finger, and then stick it up in the air. You'll figure out if the wind's blowing. Or not.

Seems the lame-liberal-media is on a new "tack." They're going after Maliki ... where most Americans haven't got the foggiest idea of what your "average" Iraqi "thinks."

And, then, they're segmenting the elderly market.

Being elderly, myself, I know I'm NOT a member of AARP. Nor do I use any of their products.

And, you'd be surprised how older people, some with homes they sold for the equity, have looked around; and moved to where it's cheaper to live. Including Mexico. And, "below."

You can't stop people from deciding how they want to live. And, the older people are, the more they know about how bad it feels to carry too much debt.

And, they have the age experiences with them.

The left's trying to find traction, now that it looks like whatever we're doing in Irak, we're stable. And, the tables have turned against the Soddies.

Don't forget the money the Saud's have. And, when they're not spilling it into madrassas, they're spilling it onto marketing and advertising firms on Madison Avenue. If I had to guess? They're keeping alive a segment of the market that would be declared dead. Except they've bought up all the commercial space.

They also own politicians. For all we know? "Lotion boy" in the White House isn't quite ready to tell the truth about the Saud's. He didn't "tell the truth" about ENRON, either. But when ENRON collapsed the president wasn't returning Kenny Boy's calls.

And, that's the best we can hope for right now.

As to Maliki taking a beating in our press? My finger says it's a ploy. And, the lamestream is no closer to what sells to the American pubic, than TNR is with their hokey behaviors. But well paid idiots do what the french aristocracy once did. Where they had plenty of cake.

Posted by Sara | August 23, 2007 6:20 PM

I have never trusted the AARP since they touted that their membership was 100% behind the catastrophic "Catastrophic Health Care" plan, when it was their leadership and not their members. I worked for a Member of Congress at the time this was passed and within a week, our office was inundated with thousands of letters and calls from irate constituents threatening all kinds of mayhem if it wasn't repealed. C-SPAN showed hundreds of bags of mail being delivered to the floor of the House? or Senate?, I can't recall which. It took a total rebellion to get this horrible piece of legislation repealed because the Congresscritters were so brain-washed and afraid of the AARP leadership. They finally got the message that if they wanted the VOTES, not just the money, from AARP members they better be responsive to the members and not just the leadership.

As far as I'm concerned, until they support social security credits and some kind of allowance for Medicaid for those of us who left the world of employment with benefits to stay home and take care of an elderly parent at no cost to the government, thereby losing SS quarters and any healthcare coverage for ourselves, then I don't want to hear it.

Posted by Rose | August 24, 2007 12:50 AM

I remember AARP well from the days when they claimed their polling showed that nearly all their members were DIMS and ardent supporters of the AARP giving huge amounts of their dues to the Dim Party.
The membership responded, "HEY! WHAT POLL WAS THAT? I was never polled by AARP for politics, or for permission to use my dues for the DIMS!"
And half their membership QUIT IMMEDIATELY.

I've seen no change in the views of the AARP "leadership", since then. Particularly in the wording of their "life insurance" commercials.
Like, did you know? AARP's life insurance doesn't require a physical!


Posted by Dave Kibler | August 24, 2007 7:12 AM

I have been a member of AARP for many years although I don't have a clue why. I have never agreed with any of their major policy positions all of which boil down to "give more people more things with somebody else's money". That being said, I suspect that the questions in this survey were written to get the answers that the AARP leadership wanted.

Posted by John Furutani | August 24, 2007 7:18 AM

I am a member of AARP and save considerably on their products--which savings can then be donated to causes I do support. Just because one is a member of an economic cooperative does not mean one is also an enthusiastic endorser of a particular viewpoint held by said cooperative.

I would switch to an alternative, however, if one existed.

Posted by MarkD | August 24, 2007 7:57 AM

I too refuse to belong to the AARP. I totally disagree with their politics. Their stance on Health Care and Social Security reform is short sighted.

I have children, and the AARP's political stance is to lobby for what's best for their members - i.e. transfer money from the young to the old.

Let's see, I paid for most of their educations, because I could and they couldn't. But they all ended college with at least the minimum Federal loans to pay back. Each of them makes less than I do. So the AARP basically wants them to pay for an enhanced retirement lifestyle for me.

I will never give those idiots a dime. I don't care if they can save me thousands of dollars. Some things are not for sale.

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