Democrats and the media are hyper-focused on the seniors’ vote in 2020. It’s a sizable constituency and early polling suggests former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in this demographic, which Trump won handily over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In recent days, we’ve seen headlines proclaiming, “Biden leads Trump by double digits,” and “Biden is outperforming Trump with seniors,” and my current favorite, “Why older voters love Joe Biden.” The Boston Globe last week even announced that the seniors’ vote is now more powerful than suburban moms, and will decide the presidency.
Some of this may be close to accurate. Some might even be true — in mid-September. But a lot will happen between now and November 3 and these stories, often accompanied by splashy photos of old people holding Biden signs, carry just a whiff of desperation. Biden campaign operatives and more than a few media outlets not only hope seniors side with Biden, they know seniors must side with him.
Many surveys suggest that Biden is more likable than Hillary Clinton was four years ago, but the Delaware Democrat has a problem with other voters on which his party has long relied for victory. A recent survey of Hispanic voters in Florida, conducted by Equis Research, showed Biden with a commanding 16 point advantage over the president. This sounds impressive until one learns that Clinton won Hispanics in that state by 27 points.
The African American vote, the sturdiest and most reliable of Democrat constituencies for generations, is also deteriorating. A recent poll by The Hill and HarrisX shows job approval for Trump among black voters increasing to 24%. That’s not quite as good as a mid-August survey showing Trump with a 36% approval rating among blacks but the data trends should be alarming to the Biden campaign, given that Trump earned 8% of the black vote four years ago.
Biden and his media allies know he is significantly underperforming in core Democrat constituencies so they must recoup those votes from elsewhere. This explains the emphasis on seniors. Granted, seniors are vulnerable to ballot harvesting, the process by which eager young people offer to take the ballots of older voters to be cast, saving seniors from making a quick trip to the polls. Ballot harvesting is also ripe for fraud, as is universal vote-by-mail in states that ordinarily would not resort to such options. It’s also a method of voting that older people are more likely to use because of coronavirus concerns.
The senior voter demographic itself is shifting ideologically, a fact that cannot be overlooked. The kids who went to Woodstock are now eligible for Social Security and Medicare, so today’s seniors include the flower children of the 1960s. But it also includes those who watched in horror as American cities were burned because of political unrest, much like cities across the U.S. are under attack today by militant radicals and anarchists. The news of 2020 is a bad flashback to the ’60s.
The modern seniors vote also includes those who went to war against communism. Millions of seniors swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic as they shipped-out to Korea, Vietnam, and far-flung fronts in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
While the essence of Joe Biden’s platform is being obfuscated by his handlers and the media, you can bet Donald Trump will call out the socialist underpinnings of many of Biden’s policies during their scheduled debates. Joe Biden might be a nice guy, but people who wore the uniform never forget raising their hand and promising to protect America from much of what has become the Biden agenda.
Also certain to move the needle is the slow but steady drip of information about how the policies of Democrat governors in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and elsewhere doomed tens of thousands of seniors to a needless death by COVID-19 as infected patients were shipped off to nursing homes and elder care facilities, undermining the false attacks on Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
Were I a presidential candidate underperforming among the largest, most reliable voting blocks in my party, I too would pray to over-perform among voters who would traditionally support my opponent. That is what is happening to Joe Biden. He may have an edge among seniors today, but that support is likely to evaporate in the weeks ahead.
Saul Anuzis is president of the 60 Plus Association. Jim Martin is the group’s founder and chairman.