Poll shows safety net programs are a top priority for older Pennsylvania voters - TAI News
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Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) speaks during an event at AFSCME Council 13 offices, March 14, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

A new poll of likely Pennsylvania voters ages 50 and over finds that their top concerns include personal economic issues in general, and Social Security and Medicare specifically. Their stances on those issues are a key difference between incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and his Republican opponent, Dave McCormick.

AARP’s April 2024 Pennsylvania voter survey found that 56% of men and women ages 50 and above said their top voting issue for this year’s election is “Personal economic Issues (Inflation, economy/jobs, Social Security),” ahead of all other considerations.

Asked about the importance of several specific issues, 79% said Social Security was extremely important or very important in deciding their votes, and 73% said the same for Medicare.

The poll was jointly conducted for AARP by the Republican polling firm Fabrizio Ward and the Democratic polling firm Impact Research. Fabrizio Ward partner Bob Ward told Keystone State News Connection on May 15: “When we look at it from an electoral standpoint, it’s not surprising that older voters are more likely to vote for the candidates who say they will make sure workers get the Social Security they paid into. The big picture here among voters 50-plus is that economic issues are paramount.”

Bill Johnston-Walsh, the state director for AARP Pennsylvania, told the outlet that older Pennsylvanians made up 62% of the electorate in the 2022 midterm elections. “Voters age 50-plus are the largest voting bloc in Pennsylvania and the country. They consistently show up to the polls, and we anticipate that this year will be no different.”

McCormick’s campaign makes no mention of safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security on its website’s issues page, and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

During his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign, McCormick backed cuts to safety net programs. “I don’t think my kids are going to be able to live under the same entitlements that all of us that are here,” the Daily Beast reported McCormick said at a March 2022 campaign appearance. “We have to face that reality and do two things at the same time: keep our promises to people we made them to, and change our entitlements in a way that are defensible and fundable into the future.” 

In November 2023, he told conservative radio host John Fredericks that to boost the nation’s bond ratings, he backed “a tightening of the belt. It’s just like you do with your family budget. You know, we’re way outspending our capacity and, as I said, there’s entitlements and a number of other drivers of that.”

Casey has been endorsed by the political action committee of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, a nonpartisan group focused on issues affecting older Americans. 

The biography page on Casey’s campaign webpage notes, “A tireless advocate for middle-class families, workers, and seniors, Bob Casey is a voice for those who are threatened by Congressional Republicans’ recent attempts to give tax cuts to the ultra-rich and to undermine Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

“My opponent and I don’t agree on any of these issues,” said Casey in April, according to NPR station WVIA in Pittston. “He’ll be a vote for the Republican efforts to privatize Social Security, which they’ve tried for years.”

In an email, Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson TaNisha Cameron noted that McCormick advocated for Social Security and Medicare privatization as an official of the George W. Bush administration. “While David McCormick threatens programs like Social Security, he’s fighting to protect tax giveaways that benefit wealthy corporations and the mega-millionaires funding his campaign at the cost of working class families,” Cameron wrote. “McCormick’s threats to Social Security and Medicare would raise costs for hard working Pennsylvania families.”

The AARP poll found that, among all likely voters, Casey leads McCormick 48%-44%.

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