Biden woos senior voters amid signs they're turning on Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Biden to award Medal of Honor to three soldiers who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan: report MORE is seeking to appeal to senior voters amid signs the traditionally conservative voting bloc is turning on President TrumpDonald TrumpJury in Jussie Smollett trial begins deliberations Pence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Biden's drug overdose strategy pushes treatment for some, prison for others MORE just weeks out from the general election.

A CNN poll released last week showed Biden with a 21-point lead among voters aged 65 years or older, while a separate Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll showed Biden with a 27-point lead among the group.

Separate polls also show Biden closing the gap with Trump among seniors in Florida and Arizona, two swing states that could decide the election in November.


A poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab released earlier this month showed Trump leading Biden 50 percent to 47 percent among voters older than 65, a drastic change from Trump’s 14-point lead among the group in 2016.

Biden’s push to court seniors in Florida was on full display on Tuesday when he laid out his plan for older Americans in the Miami suburb of Pembroke Pines. 

The former vice president used the event to touch on a number of issues affecting seniors, like Medicare, social security and Trump’s coronavirus response.

He argued that Trump views groups like seniors as disposable. 

“You deserve respect and peace of mind, but you’re not getting it because to Donald Trump, you’re expendable,” Biden said. “You’re forgettable. You’re virtually nobody. That’s how he sees seniors.  That’s how he sees you.”

Trump’s critics say seniors have moved toward his Democratic opponent due largely to the pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the elderly.


However, the president showed no sign of cautiousness when he hit the campaign trail in Florida on Monday night, holding a rally in Sanford, a town within the state’s crucial I-4 corridor.

The president used the event to celebrate his return to the trail after being diagnosed with the coronavirus earlier this month, claiming he was now “immune.”

“Now they say I’m immune. I feel so powerful. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience,” Trump told the crowd. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, just give you a big fat kiss.”

But his approach could backfire in Florida, which has been hit hard by the pandemic this year.

“What we’ve seen is that a lot of older voters are taking coronavirus seriously as an election issue,” said Jeff Johnson, the Florida state director for AARP, an interest group focused on older Americans. “The personalization and impact of the disease is a significant one — it’s one that’s making people think not only about how they cast their ballot but for whom.”

A New York Times-Siena College poll of Florida voters released earlier this month showed Biden leading Trump 48 percent to 45 percent among seniors who were asked who they trusted more to handle the pandemic. The results fell within the poll’s margin of error, which was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

In Arizona, another critical swing state with a sizable senior population, the New York Times-Siena College poll found Biden leading Trump among that group by 48 percent to 47 percent, with a 4.2-point margin of error.

Other polling shows Trump on much more solid ground with seniors in Arizona.

A poll released earlier this month by the Phoenix-based, GOP-leaning firm Highground Inc. found that 56 percent of voters 65 years and older said they would “definitely” vote for Trump, while roughly 30 percent of seniors said the same about Biden.

While Arizona appears to be turning bluer in more populated areas, the GOP’s strength in the state can still be found in the suburbs and rural areas, which is also home to much of the senior population. 

“What we see, even though the demographics of metro portions of Maricopa [County] are turning more blue and becoming more progressive, the suburbs, the outlying areas, are still pretty conservative and more Republican-leaning,” said Paul Bentz, the firm’s senior vice president of research and strategy. “So you’ve got a lot of our high concentrations of seniors in the more conservative portions of the community.”

The Trump campaign has also targeted the state’s rural areas, much the same way it has targeted “flyover country” in the Midwest.


“His campaign in particular has really concentrated on two main areas — the victory team and their ground game is focused on seniors here and they’re focused on rural Arizonans,” Bentz said. “If Phoenix and Tucson are the coasts and everything else is the flyover states, they’ve spent a ton of time organizing and activating voters and lower efficacy voters in rural [areas] and then also trying to shore up their senior base.”

Bentz added that it was difficult to compare the senior voting populations in Florida and Arizona due to their different backgrounds.

“Florida retirees are traditionally from the East Coast,” he said. “Maricopa County, Ariz., retirees are largely from the Midwest.”

The Trump campaign is also making an effort to appeal to seniors nationwide. The campaign launched an eight-figure advertising campaign targeting the voting bloc. One of the ads, released Tuesday, is titled “Who’s Better?” and touts Trump’s record on social security, drug prices and protecting Medicare, while also attacking Biden’s history on the issues.

“You’re seeing really good, really strong advertising that we’re out of the box with this week that has tremendous appeal to seniors. We know that. It’s been tested. It tests off the charts,” Trump campaign manager Bill StepienBill StepienMidterms are coming: Will we get answers on Jan. 6 before it's too late? Subpoenas show Jan. 6 panel's focus on Trump's plans The Hill's 12:30 Report: What Sununu's NH Senate decision means for midterms MORE said during a call with reporters.

Stepien brushed off concerns about Biden potentially chipping away at the senior vote, arguing that the losses the campaign may take with senior voters from 2016 to 2020 will be made up for with gains among Black and Hispanic voters.

“Whatever perceived slippage you’re seeing in your numbers among seniors, I’m absolutely certain it will be addressed,” Stepien said. “Every campaign changes from election to reelection. This one is no different. I’m absolutely sure that there are some voters we won’t perform as well among in certain parts of the country or among certain voting populations.”

Brett Samuels contributed.