by The Harris Poll, AARP Research | AARP
“Health issues continue to be top of mind for women 50 and older,” says Maria Moore, AARP’s Nevada state director. “They know that the health care system needs reform but don’t know how to fix it. We’re so divided on key issues and values, and if we’re divided on that it becomes an impasse.”
Health care was cited as the single most important issue by poll respondents, followed by immigration and national security. And 76 percent of those polled gave their elected officials a “D” or “F” grade when it comes to dealing with the high cost of health care and prescription drugs. Fifty-plus women in Nevada are also most likely to blame rising health care costs on drug companies charging too much for medicines (47 percent) and insurance companies prioritizing profits over patients’ health (40 percent).
The Nevada poll is the fourth in AARP’s “She’s the Difference” series, which is taking the pulse of voters in a number of states during the 2020 election season. Harris surveyed 1,001 female registered voters age 50 and over in Nevada from Dec. 5 to Dec. 25. (See the results of the first national survey, as well as the polls of Iowa and New Hampshire women voters.)
Tawny Saez, a senior strategist at The Harris Poll, which conducted the survey for AARP, says it is noteworthy that giving leaders failing grades for dealing with high health care costs has been consistent over the three state polls so far and the national “She’s the Difference” survey. “That just goes to show how critical these issues are for women voters 50-plus,” Saez says.
Here’s a look at some other key findings of the survey.
1. Caucus turnout expected to be strong
Nevada will have only Democratic caucuses this year, and the strong majority of women 50-plus who say they expect to attend the deliberations Feb. 22 “shows a commitment to making their voices heard,” Moore says.
Unlike traditional caucuses where all voters have to attend their precinct meetings at the same time, Nevada will have early caucuses leading up to caucus day. Voters can fill out a preference card that is then given to the caucus site, and their preference is counted as if they were there. Casino employees on the Las Vegas strip can attend special strip caucus sites Feb. 22.
2. Nevada women tired of division
An overwhelming 84 percent of women polled say people are paying too much attention to what divides Americans instead of what unites them, while 75 percent believe Americans have more in common than they do differences.
At the same time, nearly half of women polled (49 percent) don’t believe they have a voice in politics. “People think if their leaders are showing such divisiveness it’s hard to feel like your voice is being heard,” Saez says. “They feel that even though they are caucusing and talking to friends and family about these issues, they are not seeing their leaders united and not seeing any progress on the issues that matter to them.”
Moore says that even though the survey shows that women 50-plus don’t feel like they are being paid attention to, “they are still willing to go to the polls hoping that if they elect the right person that they will do the right thing. That’s very heartwarming.”
3. Independents strike bipartisan approach
“Nevada is the first state where we’ve seen a preference for a candidate with a fresh perspective be higher” than a preference for a candidate with more experience, Saez says. But although independents favor a candidate who brings a fresh perspective, among all 50-plus women polled, 46 percent prefer someone with experience while 40 percent want a candidate who brings a fresh perspective.
“Independents see the original American dream: the idea of America as a melting pot and concern for the country’s diversity,” Saez says, opinions usually associated with Democrats. “At the same time, they were closer to Republicans in believing that free-market capitalism is under threat.”
The survey also showed that independent 50-plus women are more likely than both Democrats and Republicans to say that the economy and jobs and retirement security are the most important issues facing the country.
4. Retirement security is a priority
The results show, Moore says, that “our elected officials need to make it easier to save for retirement. If we make it easier so people can save, no matter what age, we would end up with citizens who have means, not needs.”
The number one reason 50-plus women in Nevada give for being worried that they won’t be able to live comfortably in their retirement is that their Social Security will not be enough. Of those polled, 75 percent say Social Security will be the main source of income they will rely on as they get older. The survey found strong bipartisan support for bolstering the program; 94 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of independents agree the Social Security system needs to be strengthened.
“This is an especially important issue for older women voters in Nevada, given that more of them are likely to be retired,” Saez says. Women 50 and older who live in Nevada are much more likely to be retired (48 percent) than the national average (16 percent).
Read more at AARP.