What Mayors & Local Leaders Need to Know About 50+ Voters

Thursday, June 06, 2019

This is guest post by Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer for AARP.

As political pundits continue to unpack the lessons of 2018 and start prognosticating about 2020, it’s important to remember that important elections are happening this year at the local level. Races for mayor, county executive, as well as city, town and county councils are underway across the country, and while the issues at play are likely very different than what comes up in Congressional or statewide races, there is one notable similarity . . . voters age 50 and older will play a critical role determining the results.

At AARP, we call older voters “The Deciders” for good reason.  Millennials and other young Americans may be the majority of eligible voters, but they haven’t yet shown up at the polls commensurate with their numbers. In election after election, the majority of folks who cast ballots are age 50 and up. According to exit polls, voters age 50+ made up 56% of the electorate in 2018.  And, at the local level, research compiled by Portland State University shows that residents age 65 and older were 15 times more likely to vote in recent mayoral elections than residents age 18-34.

With this reality in mind, it’s important that local leaders understand what matters to older voters and how to engage with them. Here are some top line insights from a recent survey that AARP conducted with 50+ voters across the country:

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