In-depth new research examining the priorities and concerns of Black voters over the age of 50 offers optimism and concern for Democrats and Republicans alike as America heads to the polls on Nov. 8.
Individuals aged 50 and over, which includes millions of Black men and women, comprise the largest voting bloc in America and are considered the nation’s most potent voters. In detailed research conducted shortly before the elections, AARP-sponsored data revealed how older Black voters plan to cast their ballots, their significant concerns, and their likely influence.
“Black voters 50-plus are going to be decisive in key elections across the country. That’s going to be especially true in the importance of determining control of the Senate,” said Matt Hogan, a partner at Impact Research.
“Data does show Republicans are doing a lot better with Black voters 50-plus than they have historically,” Hogan reported from the extensive research. “I think both parties have a real opportunity to boost their margins by protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.”
Hogan counted as part of the AARP and NNPA Pollster Roundtable that included a particular focus on Black women, a critical cohort often overlooked by political candidates. “Black women say they are less secure than they expected,” said Margie Omero, a principal at GBAO Strategies, who participated in the poll.
“While women over 50 are motivated to vote by dislike of a candidate, Black women are motivated by civic participation to make their voice heard or because it’s their duty to vote,” Omero noted.
Omero further noted that many Black women over 50 are changing in response to higher living costs. And similar to other women in the same age bracket, Black women believe that lowering the cost of food, reducing the cost of prescriptions, and protecting Social Security from cuts will help them the most.
In a “She’s the Difference” poll of likely voters, eight in 10 said they support a Democrat on a generic congressional ballot. Most Black women 50 and older said they are still making up their minds about how they will vote in November. “This cohort is strongly motivated to vote, and making their voices heard is the biggest motivating factor,” Omero added.
The poll outlined that the most important issues determining Black women’s vote in November are division in the country, voting rights and racism. The poll revealed that two-thirds of Black women 50 and older said the U.S. economy is working well for them, a significantly higher percentage than women in that age bracket overall.
At the same time, a plurality said they feel less financially secure than expected at this stage.
In a survey taken in targeted election districts, Black voters 50-plus in the most competitive House districts for this November’s election currently back a generic Democrat by a 65%—16% margin over a generic Republican with a substantial 19% undecided.
While 49 points is a significant lead, it represents underperformance by Democrats among Black voters 50-plus compared to recent elections. Black women 50-plus are more supportive of the generic Democrat at 69%—13%, with men preferring the Democrat at 60%—20%.
Liberals (37% of Black voters 50+) back the Democrat by 87 points, while conservatives (21% of Black voters) favor the Republican by 15.
While very few moderates (35% of voters) say they would vote for the Republican, 33% are currently undecided. Pollsters found little differences by education, with Republicans doing somewhat better among voters prioritizing economic issues for their vote in November.
In Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist leads Gov. Ron DeSantis by a 78%—18% margin among Black voters 50 and over. Crist wins women and men significantly but is up more with Black women 50 and older.
About one-quarter of Black voters 50 and over call themselves conservatives, and with this group DeSantis has a narrow 5-point lead. Crist dominates DeSantis among Black voters who are self-described liberals and moderates. Crist’s lead is 22 points bigger among Black voters with college degrees than those without them.
Congresswoman Val Demings is ahead of Senator Marco Rubio by 79%—17% with Black voters 50 and over. Like Crist, Demings’ lead is larger with Black women than men.
Demings is the choice of nearly every Black voter 50-plus who is a liberal and has a big lead with moderates, while the two candidates are competitive among conservatives. Just as in the governor’s race, Demings does a net 22 points better with Black voters 50-plus who are college graduates.
In Georgia, Stacey Abrams leads Gov. Brian Kemp 74%—21% among Black voters 50-plus, an enormous advantage, but this 53-point margin is a significant drop-off from 2018, when she won Black voters 45-plus by 91 points over Kemp (95%—4%), according to the AP VoteCast exit poll.
The pollsters didn’t find much of a gender gap among Black voters 50 and over in the governor’s race, and Abrams has substantial advantages among liberals (35% of Black voters 50+) and moderates (31%).
However, Kemp has a 9-point lead among the 27% of Black voters 50-plus who call themselves conservatives.
Sen. Raphael Warnock has a more significant lead among Black voters 50-plus, ahead of Herschel Walker by an 80%—17% margin, but is still underperforming typical Democratic performance with these voters.
Warnock’s lead is 10 points more significant among Black women 50-plus than Black men. The pollsters found that Warnock leads Walker with each ideological group, but the race is tight among conservatives.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leads Tudor Dixon by a 79%—16% margin among Black voters 50 and over, where polls found a gender gap with Black women 50-plus giving the governor an even bigger lead.
Whitmer holds considerable advantages among liberals and moderates, while Dixon narrowly leads Whitmer among the 18% of Black voters 50-plus who call themselves conservatives.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) holds a 78%—18% lead over Tim Michels (R) among Black voters 50 and over, still underperforming compared to recent Democratic candidate performance among Black voters 50-plus in Wisconsin. Evers is up by 64 points among Black men 50+ and 57 points among Black women 50-plus.
The governor wins nearly every self-identified liberal and 81% of moderates, but among the 1-in-5 Wisconsin Black voters 50-plus who identify as conservative, Michels is up 58%—39%.
Pollsters found the Senate race to be like the contest for governor at the topline level.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) leads Sen. Ron Johnson (R) by a 78%—19% margin.
Barnes’ lead is a bit larger over Johnson’s among Black men 50-plus than Black women 50 and over. Barnes has a slightly smaller lead among Black moderates 50-plus than Evers, but he keeps the race against Johnson closer among Black conservatives 50-plus.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania polling shows Josh Shapiro with a substantial 85%—9% lead over Doug Mastriano among Black voters 50-plus in the race for governor. That’s an improvement from his 78%—17% advantage in June.
Shapiro leads among both Black women and men 50-plus, with an immense advantage among women. He wins more than 90% of self-described liberals and moderates and 62% of conservatives, with considerable improvement among both moderates and conservatives since June.
Like the governor’s race, John Fetterman has expanded his lead over Mehmet Oz among Black voters 50 and over. His edge now stands at 84%—8% vs. 76%—16% four months ago.
Black women 50-plus favor Fetterman by an 80-point margin, while men back him by 68 points. Fetterman remains up by huge margins among liberals and moderates while doubling Oz’s vote total among the 21% of Black voters 50-plus in Pennsylvania who call themselves politically conservative.
“One of the things that will be interesting to see after the election is just what was the final movement,” said Tony Fabrizio, partner at Fabrizio Ward. ”If we continue to see a drift toward Republicans, that’s good news for the Republican Party,” Fabrizio stated.
“One of the things we’ve seen is that Republicans are status quo with white voters, but their growth is particularly with Black voters and other voters of color.”
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire national senior correspondent.