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Pa. Seniors Focus On Finances, Wars Ahead Of Vote

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Pa. Seniors Focus On Finances, Wars Ahead Of Vote

Pa. Seniors Focus On Finances, Wars Ahead Of Vote

Pa. Seniors Focus On Finances, Wars Ahead Of Vote

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/130835285/130840496" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

President Obama has recently invested quite a bit of time in an effort to rally young voters: holding events on college campuses and giving interviews to MTV and Rolling Stone Magazine. He's not spent so much time with older voters, yet polls show they are by far the most likely age group to turn out in next month's midterm elections in large numbers. According to a survey by the senior lobbying group AARP, more than two-thirds of all voters are likely to be older than 45.

NPR's Brian Naylor traveled to Pennsylvania to find out what's on the minds of older voters.

Older Americans are much more likely to vote in midterm elections, as recent turnout figures show.

In the years 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006:

— The turnout among voters 65 and older averaged 61 percent.

— The turnout among voters 45-64 years of age averaged 55 percent.

— The turnout among voters 25-44 averaged 36 percent.

— The turnout among voters 18-24 averaged 19 percent.

Source: AARP's October 2010 report on The Voting Behavior of Older Voters.

BRIAN NAYLOR: Pennsylvania is home to many seniors, about 15 and a half percent of its population, according to the Census Bureau one of the highest ratios in the nation.

The 12th Congressional District in southwestern Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of elderly voters in the state. Its largest city, Johnstown, has been hard hit by the economic downturn. Many of the downtown shops are vacant.

I met Buck and Janis Naugle strolling through a nearly deserted city park, looking at Halloween decorations.

Mr. BUCK NAUGLE: I'm 74, and she's...

Ms. JANIS NAUGLE: Seventy-one.

Mr. NAUGLE: ...71.

Ms. NAUGLE: Seventy-one.

NAYLOR: Okay.

Mr. NAUGLE: She's catching up to me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NAYLOR: The Naugles are Democrats and say they'll definitely be voting on Election Day. Their biggest concern: the cost of health care.

Mr. NAUGLE: We're on Medicare, but we also have an HMO with the Blue Cross, and it's getting ridiculous. I just got my new pills for next month, which I've been paying $183 each of us. Now, it's up to 205.

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NAYLOR: The Naugles' concerns over their finances are not unique among older voters. Many I spoke with mentioned they wouldn't be receiving a cost of living adjustment in their Social Security checks for the second year in a row.