The coronavirus has exposed Americans to the workings of the American political system. Many have applauded the president and the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic, while others have heavily criticized their response. The elderly have been a group that have heavily criticized the U.S. government, especially President Trump. This has consequently led to the shifting views of the president among elderly voters.
In the 2016 election, President Trump relied heavily on elderly voters to secure his win and political successes. In this election, he won voters over 65 by seven percentage points (Karni and Haberman, 2020). However, the elderly are identified as the most vulnerable population in the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults have a higher risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19 (CDC, 2020). Additionally, 8 out of 10 reported U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have been individuals 65 or older (CDC, 2020). Due to their vulnerability, there has been a concerning decrease in elderly support of Trump, according to the campaign’s internal polls (Karni and Haberman, 2020). This is due to Trump’s push to reopen the country’s economy too soon, appearing not to express concern for a virus that puts the elderly at such a great risk (Karni and Haberman, 2020). In a Morning Consult poll, it was found that President Trump’s approval rate on his handling of the coronavirus was the lowest among the elderly compared to any other group (Karni and Haberman, 2020). In his push to reopen the country, many Americans have found it worrisome, as Trump has planned to keep the original date of the traditional Republican convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina in August (CGTN, 2020). Many believe the President is attempting to reopen the country faster than it needs to be opened to ensure this convention takes place.
Florida has always been a key state when it comes to presidential elections. The 2020 election, predicted to be a close election, calls for Trump to win the state of Florida. It may be difficult for President Trump to have a less chance at victory without Florida (Aljazeera, 2020). In places with larger amounts of senior citizens, such as Tampa, Florida, retirement communities largely disagree with the Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Elderly voters have reflected that they believe Trump is leaving too much for the states to decide and believe the federal government should be handling more (Aljazeera, 2020). A Quinnipiac poll found that in Florida, Joe Biden has a four-point lead over Trump. The poll also found that Biden was also leading Trump by ten points nationally among senior voters (Buncombe, 2020). Former Vice President Joe Biden’s overall lead over Trump can be attributed to Trump’s loss of the senior vote. The Republican party has historically relied on heavy support of seniors because of the Democratic Party’s heavy support of younger voters (CGTN, 2020).
Large numbers of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes have also been a huge concern. COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes account for one-third of the total deaths from COVID-19 (CGTN, 2020). The high death rate in these nursing homes is another reason Trump has lost a significant amount of senior support. There are currently 25,600 COVID-19 deaths reported by nursing homes and care facilities tailored to older adults, while only 10 percent of the United States’ infection cases have occurred in these senior living facilities. In a dozen states, such as Maryland, Oregon, and Colorado, senior deaths account for more than half of deaths related to COVID-19 (CGTN, 2020). The Trump administration has made efforts to appeal to older voters such as protecting seniors by not allowing nonessential visits to nursing homes and expanding Telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries (Karni and Haberman, 2020). However, the administration has also hindered its efforts to appeal to senior voters by Trump’s rejection of the expansion of the enrollment for health insurance for uninsured seniors (Karni and Haberman, 2020). A small number of voters can make a dramatic difference on the outcomes of the election, especially in the state of Florida. If we go back to the controversial 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Bush defeated Gore by approximately 537 votes to win the presidency (Buncombe, 2020).
(Karni and Haberman, 2020) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/09/us/politics/trump-older-voters-2020.html