New AARP Michigan Poll: 65-plus Voters May Tip the Scales in 2020

Findings Show Social Security and Medicare Transcend Party Lines

Lansing, MI —AARP Michigantodayreleased the full survey results that show despite extreme partisanship, protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices transcend partisan politics.

The survey finds that support for Social Security and Medicare unifies voters from both parties.

A significant majority of voters from both parties say that they are more likely to vote for a candidate who will protect Social Security (87%), strengthen Medicare (86%), lower drug costs (87%) and increase protections for nursing homes (83%).

The poll also indicates the 65-plus voters will play a major role in determining the outcome.

Former Vice President Joe Biden (57%) leadsPresident Donald Trump (39%) among voters 65 and up. Among voters 50 and older, Biden holds a 54% to 40% lead, driven by huge drops for Trump among women 50 and up and all voters 65 and older.

In the U.S. Senate race, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters leads Republican challenger John James among voters 65-plus, 54%  to 37%.

“Candidates who want to win in 2020 must talk about the issues that matter to voters 50 and over – like voting safely from home or in-person, preventing cuts to Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices,” said Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director.. “Most importantly, Michigandersare casting their ballots earlier than ever and candidates need to address their concerns now.”

The Michigan poll findings include:

  • Michigan’s vote-by-mail system is very new, but already more than half of voters 50-plus plan to vote by absentee ballot this cycle. But the mailbox goes partisan as Biden voters are more than twice as likely as Trump voters to use it.
  • 58%of voters 50-plus are worried about coronavirus and27%know someone who has passed away from coronavirus. But the data puts into stark relief how much COVID has disproportionately impacted Black Americans, with 65% of Black voters reporting that they know someone personally who has died of COVID compared to 17% of white voters 50+.
  • More 50-plus voters are concerned about getting infected with coronavirus(64%)thangetting a vaccine for it (31%). But that support breaks along partisan lines with 79% of Biden voters worried more about infection than the vaccine, and 49% of Trump voters worried about the vaccine and 44 percent worried about the infection. More than half of voters are not confident a vaccine that came out early next year will be effective.
  • A majority of voters age 50-64 (58%) are worried about not being able to retire.

Benenson Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group conducted a survey among 1600 likely 2020 voters in Michigan, which fielded from August 30 to September 8, 2020. Overall margin of error is ± 2.5% at 95% level of confidence.

In a separate survey of older adults in Michigan, commissioned by AARP Michigan and conducted by EPIC/MRA of Lansing last month, an overwhelming majority – 97 percent of voters age 50 and older — said they will “definitely” vote in the Nov. 3 election.

The EPIC/MRA poll of 600 voters 50 and up also found:

  • 89% said that if they or a loved one needed long-term care, they would prefer to receive that care in their own home with assistance provided by direct care workers. Only 7% said they would prefer a nursing home or other facility. This finding was consistent among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
  • Voters are split in describing their personal financial outlook over the next 5 years:  45% are “more worried and concerned” while 43% are “more hopeful and confident.”
  • 67% of Michigan voters age 50+ believe the nation is on the wrong track. A 69% majority rate economic conditions in the U.S negatively: either “poor” (33%) or “only fair” (36%).
  • A plurality (48% to 41%) believes Michigan is headed in the right direction even though 73% rate economic conditions in Michigan negatively: either “poor” (23%) or “only fair” (50%).
  • A 52% – 45% majority disapproves of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President.
  •  A 58% – 39% majority disapproves of the way Trump  is handling the coronavirus outbreak.
  • A 62% – 36% majority approves of the way Gretchen Whitmer is handling her job as Governor.
  • A 63% – 34% majority approves of the way Whitmer is handling the coronavirus outbreak.


About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.