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Democrats Make A Play To Win Over Seniors, Long A Base For GOP

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PHOENIX — Democrats in key races across the country are making an aggressive push for older voters, a key bloc in lower-turnout midterm elections, citing each their very own work to lower prescription drug costs and hammering the GOP for suggesting changes to Social Security.

The push, if successful, might be a key a part of Democrats’ ongoing electoral comeback, providing an example of each how the party in power’s congressional successes and the GOP’s ideological excesses have altered the political narrative ahead of November.

Here in retiree-rich Arizona, Sen. Mark Kelly is campaigning relentlessly on the provisions aimed toward lowering prescribed drugs within the Inflation Reduction Act while Democratic groups pound his opponent, enterprise capitalist Blake Masters, with attack ads noting the Republican’s support for the privatization of Social Security — something Masters is now backing away from.

“It’s going to have such a positive impact on seniors’ lives, to finally, after a long time, get to the purpose where Medicare can negotiate the price of prescribed drugs,” Kelly told reporters after a roundtable with the AARP and seniors during Congress’ summer recess. “We finally fixed it. So it’s a giant deal.”

In midterm elections, when less dedicated younger voters often skip casting their ballots, seniors are the dominant voting bloc. Throughout the last midterm election in 2018, voters over 50 made up a full three-fifths of the electorate, in accordance with the Pew Research Center. And in 2014, when turnout plummeted across the country, they made up nearly two-thirds of all voters.

Each times, they leaned toward the GOP, though Democrats’ success in limiting the Republican advantage in 2018 was a key reason the party was in a position to take back the House as an alternative of suffering certainly one of the worst midterm defeats of their centuries-long history, as they did in 2014.

Surveys now indicate an environment in between those two poles: A Quinnipiac University poll, released Wednesday, found the GOP with a 51% to 43% advantage amongst those over 65, and with the 2 parties tied at 47% amongst voters age 50 to age 64. An AARP survey, released earlier this summer and conducted by a bipartisan duo of pollsters, found roughly three-fifths of the persuadable voters within the country were over the age of fifty.

Seniors have long tended to guide toward the more conservative and change-resistant GOP, though Republicans’ advantage has faded somewhat because the comparatively liberal baby boom generation enters their golden years.

“The party has an actual opportunity to proceed the gains President Joe Biden made with seniors in 2020,” said Nick Ahamed, the deputy executive director of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA.

Social Security and prescription drug costs provide two potent issues for the party. The AARP survey found 82% of voters over 50 years old in key congressional districts said Social Security can be a vital think about their vote, and 69% said the identical of the price of prescribed drugs.

And nearly 9 in 10 said they were more more likely to vote for a candidate who supported allowing Medicare to barter the price of prescribed drugs or a candidate who protects Social Security from cuts.

Republicans, in fact, have a potent counter-argument: inflation, which has a very nasty bite for retirees on a set income.

“Joe Biden and Mark Kelly have caused massive inflation which means every dollar that somebody has, whether or not they saved it or whether it’s coming from a Social Security check, it’s value lower than last month over month as groceries and gas climbs higher and better,” Masters told reporters.

Kelly is removed from alone in his deal with seniors. It’s also been a significant issue for Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) as he fights to carry on to his Donald Trump-won rural district. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) held the same roundtable event with the AARP on prescription drug prices early on within the congressional recess. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee in Wisconsin, has relentlessly hammered GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for suggesting cuts to Social Security.

Democrats have also tried to tar Republicans broadly as supporting attacks on Social Security and Medicare. Biden has repeatedly attacked Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, for a plan to sunset all laws after five years. Democrats argue the plan would result in the elimination of each major entitlement programs.

“Your Social Security, every five years, might be eliminated unless it’s voted back into existence,” Biden told the group at a rally in Rockville, Maryland, last month. “Do you ought to put your Social Security into the hands of Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene?”

Republicans have variously tried to either dodge the difficulty — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was quick to distance himself from Scott’s plan — or to argue they’re protecting the programs’ long-term health by reducing advantages.

After Barnes attacked Johnson for wanting to make Social Security spending discretionary, Johnson’s campaign fired back.

“Leave it to a profession politician like Mandela Barnes to bury his head within the sand and ignore a politically difficult problem,” Johnson told a neighborhood TV station. “The truth is Social Security might be depleted by 2035 but Barnes has no plan to guard seniors, just empty scare tactics and hole election-year rhetoric.”

A fast glance on the Senate map shows how decisive older voters could possibly be. Of the eight states at the middle of the battle for the chamber, which is split 50-50, five are among the many 20 oldest states within the country: Latest Hampshire is 2nd, Florida is fifth, Pennsylvania is seventh and Ohio and Wisconsin are in the kids. Two other Sunbelt states with competitive races — Nevada and Arizona — are havens for retirees.

Kelly, nevertheless, may face the trickiest challenge for Democrats. Arizona’s electorate is sharply polarized by age, and the previous astronaut must appeal to each a more progressive and diverse population of millennials and members of Generation Z competing with a moderate and conservative base of older, mostly white voters.

On the AARP roundtable, Kelly laid out the pharmaceutical cost provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act — capping the price of insulin at $35 a month for Medicare patients, letting Medicare use its “massive buying power” to barter lower prices for some drugs, making a $2,000 yearly cap on out-of-pocket expenses — and talked to seniors who had trouble affording their drugs.

One woman, who takes eight different prescriptions each day, described how the monthly cost of her insulin shot up from $44 to $128 overnight. One other woman, whose treatment for multiple sclerosis cost $11,000 a yr, said she had stopped taking her drugs entirely for greater than 18 months but will start again when the law’s provisions kick in.

“I can’t thank you adequate for getting this across the finish line,” Dana Marie Kennedy, the state director for the AARP, told Kelly after recounting the decades-long fight to offer Medicare the facility to barter prices, noting the result might be “thousands and thousands of seniors will save billions of dollars” on their medications.

A day earlier, Masters had gathered a gaggle of seniors within the lounge of a house in a gated community within the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. While the purpose of the discussion was to listen to seniors’ “concerns about inflation and the state of the economy,” the conversation actually bounced from topic to topic, with the assembled bringing up a variety of conservative grievances.

One attendee, wearing a “45” hat, compared the FBI to the Gestapo. One other woman insisted Arizona’s 2020 election was marred by fraud — something debunked by multiple audits.

But talking to reporters in the house’s driveway after the event, Masters was more on message. He insisted the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s ad, which features straightforward footage of him declaring “we should always privatize” and “get the federal government out of” Social Security, was a “lie.”

“I’ve been clear, we’re never gonna cut it. You possibly can’t pull the rug out from seniors,” he said, quickly adding that Social Security has “long-term challenges.” His campaign has since said he simply desires to incentivize future generations to create private saving accounts.

Masters has also relentlessly attacked the Inflation Reduction Act, but when asked if he would support allowing Medicare to barter drug prices — certainly one of the law’s signature provisions — he said he would need to study the difficulty more.

The identical day Masters was in Gilbert, Kelly visited the predominant campus of Arizona State University to pitch himself to a much younger audience. Chatting with a crowd of greater than 50 students, he related the story of the shooting that almost claimed the lifetime of his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (This yr’s college freshmen were 6 years old when the shooting occurred.)

But when he discussed the Inflation Reduction Act, he focused on its climate change provisions as an alternative of the health care ones — college students are more afraid of the long-term climate future than they’re about getting sick.

“It’s going to scale back greenhouse gasses produced by the US by 40% by the top of the last decade,” he said. “It’s going to assist us make the case to other countries that they should do more.”

Student debt forgiveness, specifically, could possibly be a tough issue for Democrats with seniors. The Quinnipiac poll found 53% of American supported Biden’s plan to forgive $10,000 or more of student loan debt for borrowers who make lower than $125,000 a yr. However the plan was far less popular with older voters, with just 41% support amongst those over the age of 65.

On the event, which took place before Biden rolled out the forgiveness plan, Kelly said he would wish to know specifics, and quickly pivoted to discussing the necessity for more trade schools and apprenticeship programs to assist individuals who didn’t plan on going to varsity.

But when Biden did roll out his plan, Kelly quickly announced his support.

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