May 28, 2020

New Polling Buoys Trump Campaign Hopes With Seniors Despite Pandemic Fallout

Rob Crilly | Washington Examiner

Senior voters in battleground states say they approve of steps taken by President Trump’s to battle the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll, despite national surveys indicating older people were abandoning the president to support Joe Biden.

The age group was a vital part of the coalition that elected President Trump in 2016. But with senior voters among the worst hit by the deadly effects of COVID-19, a string of reports suggested the president’s reelection hopes had been dashed by the rising death toll.

Yet, figures close to his campaign say they believe support is holding up where it matters most, claims backed by a new policy poll published by the Trump-aligned America First Policies nonprofit organization.

A breakdown of age data obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner reveals that about three-quarters of over-65 voters in battleground states approved of the way Trump had restricted travel to and from China, and almost two-thirds supported the way he had helped small businesses weather the pandemic.

When asked who would better stand up to China or fight for better trade deals, Trump held leads of 20 points and 16 points over Biden.

Adam Geller, who conducted the poll and whose internal 2016 surveys correctly pointed to Michigan as a Trump pickup, said policy polls could be more instructive than asking which candidate a voter preferred.

“What we generally see is that seniors, in many ways, are more supportive than the electorate as a whole when it comes to these policies,” he said.

The poll was conducted in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the states likely to decide the presidential election.

It concluded that seniors were still backing key Trump policies.

“These are battleground seniors, they live in the battleground states, and I think this is what a lot of the media misses when they just want to summarize national data and they are just looking at all this other stuff that oversamples the Californias and the New Yorks of the world,” said Geller. “That’s not how the election is decided.”

That will come as good news for the president.

The age group was at the forefront of his mind on Tuesday when he hosted healthcare executives and patient groups at the White House to announce that many Medicare recipients would be able to pay less for insulin.

“I hope the seniors are going to remember it because Biden is the one that put us into the jam because they didn't know what they were doing,” he said in the Rose Garden. “They were incompetent.”

The pivot to needling his election rival comes amid multiples warnings that his 2016 coalition may be fragmenting.

Last time, Trump beat Hillary Clinton among those over the age of 65 by a margin of 53-44, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

In contrast, an Associated Press-NORC poll released recently found that 54% of the over-60s said they disapproved of how Trump is performing as president.

And a Quinnipiac University poll published last week found Biden held a 22-point lead over Trump among female voters over the age of 65, which translates to a 10-point lead among all voters in that age group.

An individual with knowledge of the campaign's strategy shrugged off the numbers, saying Trump’s overall approval rating remained steady.

“I don’t think anyone is overly concerned about the poll numbers today,” he said. “Forty million Americans have lost their jobs in the past three months, and it is frankly amazing that Trump‘s numbers have held up as they have in this environment.”

The latest Gallup figure puts the president’s approval rating at 49%, level with his highest rating.

That leaves campaign officials bullish on senior votes.

Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “Just like anyone else, senior citizens see President Trump leading the nation during the coronavirus response and working to reopen the economy.

“Seniors also care about who can restore the economy to greatness, who will stand up to China, and who will put America first in every decision. They care about a strong military, looking after veterans, and protecting Social Security and Medicare," he told the Washington Examiner.

“President Trump wins on all those issues, and Joe Biden’s record is abysmal," he said.

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