AARP Survey Highlights Key Concerns of Older Black Voters in Pennsylvania: Social Security and Medicare Take Center Stage

AARP PA VoterImage via AARP Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA — As the 2024 election season heats up, a recent survey by AARP Pennsylvania reveals that candidates should be keenly aware of the concerns and priorities of voters aged 50 and older, particularly Black voters. This demographic is proving to be highly motivated, with 79% indicating they are extremely motivated to vote this year.

The survey sheds light on the paramount issues influencing the voting decisions of older Black Pennsylvanians. Topping the list are Social Security and Medicare, with 92% and 89% respectively marking these as extremely or very important. Policies enabling seniors to live independently at home (87%) and the cost of prescription drugs (86%) also rank high among their concerns. These findings underscore the critical role that senior-centric policies will play in electoral outcomes.

Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania State Director, commented on the importance of these findings, saying, “With inflation and the rising costs of living squeezing all Pennsylvania households, Black voters 50+ are clearly looking for leaders with a plan. Candidates would be wise to listen to their opinions and concerns if they want to win in November.”

The survey results paint a clear picture of the political landscape among older Black voters. In the presidential race, President Joe Biden holds a commanding lead over former President Donald Trump, garnering 84% support compared to Trump’s 8%. Similarly, in the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Senator Bob Casey leads challenger Dave McCormick by an even wider margin, 87% to 7%.

Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Social Security Advocacy: An overwhelming 96% of Black voters 50+ are more likely to support a Senate candidate who ensures workers receive the Social Security benefits they have earned through a lifetime of work.
  • Cost Concerns: Health care/prescription drugs, utilities, food, and housing are significant financial worries for many older Black voters.
    Financial Worries: A notable 58% of Black voters 50+ express concern about their personal financial situation, with women (63%) particularly anxious about healthcare and housing costs.
  • Income Reliance: Social Security is or will be a major income source for 66% of Black voters 50+ and 73% of those 65+.
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These insights reveal that issues surrounding Social Security and Medicare are not just policy preferences but pivotal factors in the decision-making process for older Black voters in Pennsylvania. The economic pressures of inflation and rising living costs add urgency to these concerns, making it crucial for candidates to address them directly.

Republicans and Democrats alike should take note. While President Biden and Senator Casey currently enjoy substantial support within this demographic, the underlying issues highlight areas where voter dissatisfaction could emerge. Addressing the specific needs of older Black voters could prove decisive in securing electoral victories.

The bipartisan polling team of Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research conducted the survey, interviewing 1,398 likely Pennsylvania voters between April 24-30, 2024. The data includes a representative sample of 600 likely voters statewide, with additional oversamples focusing on voters aged 50 and older and Black voters aged 50 and older. The margin of error for these groups ranges from ±3.5% to ±4.9%, ensuring a robust and reliable snapshot of voter sentiment.

As the election approaches, these findings emphasize the importance of targeted, effective policies that address the real concerns of older voters, particularly within the Black community. Candidates ignoring these issues do so at their peril, while those who engage meaningfully with these voters’ priorities stand to gain substantial support.

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