When campaign managers are trying to help a candidate get elected, one of the first things they look at is important demographics. These can include racial demographics, working backgrounds, and the like. It’s critical that a successful candidate appeals to the broadest demographics, of course, but it’s even more important that the demographic the candidate is appealing to is highly likely to turn out for election day.
There’s nothing more crushing for a politician than to have a successful fundraising campaign and packed venues for their appearances, only for that energy to evaporate on election day. Even if seventy percent of a demographic supports your policies, that doesn’t help you if only ten percent of them show up to the polls.
This is why one specific demographic gets a lot of attention from both sides of the aisle: retired people.
As the joke goes, retired people have little to do between gardening, talking to their grandkids, and applying for Social Security disability, so they’ll have time to be politically engaged.
And while that mean-spirited viewpoint holds a kernel of truth, it’s not the full picture. Older people, especially retirees, vote more than other demographics for a combination of reasons. They’re a major political force whose voice is important in modern democracy.
Many retired people are on a very strict budget and feel the direct impact of policies about Social Security and other programs. Likewise, any policy governing the costs of medication and health insurance or eligibility for driver’s licenses are all high on a retired person’s list of concerns.
Retired people are a vulnerable group in ways that make it important to have their voices heard. That goes all the way from the White House to local governments, which is why retirees are more likely to vote in all elections–not just every four years when it’s time to pick a president.
Another factor to consider is access to the polls. Some demographics, especially among working-age people, find it hard to get to the polls on time to vote on election day. Retired people generally don’t have this issue, though. The lack of a fixed work schedule makes it much easier for a retired person to get to their polling place than, say, someone who works in food service or retail.
As such, successful political candidates know how to engage with the retired demographic of their communities. If they don’t, then they’re unlikely to get enough votes to ever make it to public office.