Will Biden’s boomer polling bump translate to senior votes in November?

As President Joe Biden‘s popularity has dipped among young voters, he’s outpacing past Democratic presidential candidates with the opposite demographic, senior citizens, who routinely vote to the right of the general electorate.

A string of polls show the president leading former President Donald Trump among the over 65 crowd, and though carrying seniors alone won’t help Biden overcome issues surrounding his 2020 base, they do offer a degree of security in battlegrounds like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Adam Geller, a Republican pollster and CEO of National Research Inc., told the Washington Examiner that “hippie grandmas” aging into the 65 and over demographic account for the leftward swing among seniors.

“Today’s seniors are yesterday’s hippies, and so I subscribe to the theory that the Vietnam War protesters of the 1960s are today’s 65-plus voters. Young seniors let’s call them, and young seniors are still pretty liberal,” he stated. “It’s just the evolution of generational politics.”

In 2020, exit polls showed Trump carrying 51% of the senior vote, with Biden pulling 48%, marking the strongest showing by a Democratic candidate among voters over 65 in nearly two decades. Fast forward to 2024, and polls conducted in recent months by the New York Times, Quinnipiac University, CNN, and the Daily Kos now show Biden leading Trump by a margin of up to 22 points among senior voters. Polls conducted by Fox News and Echelon Insights still show Biden trailing Trump among seniors.

Biden’s campaign believes that the president’s relative popularity with seniors could help Democrats beyond traditional swing states and expand the map to win Florida for the first time since 2012, even with the state’s rightward push in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Donald Trump is proudly running on a record of threatening Social Security and Medicare, and if he has the chance, will repeal the law President Biden passed to lower prescription drug costs and insulin for seniors,” Biden campaign spokesman Charles Lutvak told the Washington Examiner. “The stakes this November are higher than ever. President Biden has a proven record for seniors, and unlike Trump’s failing campaign, our team is working to talk to these key voters across the battleground states to earn their support every single day.”

Trump suggested in a March interview he’s open to changing entitlement programs for senior citizens, saying, “There is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements.” He later walked back those comments in a separate interview, pledging, “I will never do anything that will jeopardize or hurt Social Security or Medicare,” Trump said.

Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst and the managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, stopped short of betting on data showing Biden gaining ground among seniors and Trump picking up young and black voters despite repeated showings in polls this cycle.

Kondik argues that, like how polls undermined Trump’s support in 2016, voters of all demographics might be unwilling to talk to pollsters or participate in surveys for any number of reasons. Usually, participants are among the most plugged-in voters across the country, on both sides of the aisle.

“We are skeptical of poll findings that show Trump winning younger voters outright or making historic inroads with black voters. We are also skeptical of poll findings that suggest 65+ voters will vote bluer than the nation and/or that show Biden winning that group,” he wrote on April 4.

“We continue to believe that the 2024 presidential election is likely to be very close and competitive and also that there is likely to be a lot of continuity between this election and what happened in 2016 and 2020—when Trump was on the ballot each time and Biden was on the ballot in the latter election,” Kondik continued.

Geller, a Trump pollster in 2016 and 2020, says Biden’s apparent support from seniors is to be expected.

“It doesn’t mean doom and gloom for Republicans. It just means that this has happened,” Geller said. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that Joe Biden’s disastrous policies have resonated with them. Some of them he’s bankrupting and making them increasingly unsafe. So it’s not to say that it’s a done deal. It’s to say that there’s more to a senior than meets the eye and that a senior from 15 years ago isn’t the same as a senior today.”

Biden is 81 years old and will be 82 if sworn in for a potential second term in office, and his growing popularity with baby boomers can be traced back to his efforts to lower healthcare costs for older people, which has earned him the endorsement of the Alliance of Retired Americans.

Dating back to his 2023 State of the Union, the president has made protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security a central pillar of his reelection push while claiming that Trump and Republican lawmakers are moving to cut funding for those programs. Biden also touts his administration’s efforts to lower the costs of prescription drugs, including the $35 cap placed on monthly insulin prescriptions, and freed up $37 billion in federal grants to promote independent living services for seniors in all 50 states.

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The president spoke about his efforts to build up the care economy in a speech at Union Station on Tuesday.

“Seniors and people with disabilities, we’re going to expand Medicaid Home Care Services and reduce that 700,000 person backlog,” Biden told the crowd of care workers. “That would allow more folks to live and work in their own communities with dignity and independence. More home care workers will start getting better pay and benefits and the dignity they deserve.”

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