AARP released a poll Tuesday showing Democratic congressional candidates with leads over their incumbent Republican opponents among older voters in two key swing districts. The survey in New York’s 19th and 22nd Districts also reveals what is important to voters 50 and older, issues such as health care and Medicare.
AARP New York’s poll has Democrat Antonio Delgado leading first-term Republican Congressman John Faso 43 percent to 36 percent in the 19th District. In the 22nd District, the poll shows Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi ahead of Republican first-term Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, 48 percent to 35 percent. AARP New York Associate State Director for Advocacy Joe Stelling:
“Well, the major takeaway here are that 50-plus voters in these districts are united in concerns across party lines over some of the big issues health care costs, Social Security, Medicare, those big ticket items we looked at,” Stelling says. “That’s why we’re doing these polls is to show elected officials that they need to be paying attention because the voters who are going to decide these elections are bringing these issues to the polls with them.”
AARP is nonpartisan and does not endorse any candidates. The surveys are part of AARP’s “Be the Difference. Vote” campaign to encourage older Americans to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
“This is a midterm election and a lot of time in midterms, a lot of people stay home,” says Stelling. “There were 1.2 million more voters in the 50-plus that showed up in the presidential year here in New York than showed up in the last midterm.”
“Well, the poll is statistically flawed, I can tell you that, because a number of factors that they’ve polled, these responses are widely at variance with every other poll that I’ve seen in this district, both public and private,” Faso says. “But, it’s no doubt that seniors are concerned about health care, they’re concerned about affordability, and that really concerns a lot of people around the district.”
Faso says there are a range of issues at the top of voters’ minds.
“The most pressing thing in this district is taxes and jobs,” says Faso. “And health care, I would say, would be one of the top three issues.”
“Polls, like I said, are a snapshot in time. And we feel very confident in our polling. We’ve got the margin of error in there, and that,” says Stelling. “But, as the days and weeks creep up to Election Day, we’re five weeks out, so a lot can happen between now and then.”
In an emailed statement, Delgado says, in part, “The 50-plus voters in our district have made it clear that they want someone who will protect their access to quality, affordable healthcare and stand up for their interests, not the interests of big corporations or giant pharmaceutical companies.” Delgado goes on to criticize Faso’s vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. Again, Stelling.
“These poll results are overwhelming when you’re talking about health care costs and access and those things,” says Stelling. “These issues are polling in the 80s and 90s percentile-wise in terms of what’s important to the 50-plus voter, and they are going to take that to the polls.”
AARP members number about 137,000 in NY-19 and 117,000 in NY- 22. In the 22nd District, Brindisi campaign manager Ellen Foster, in a statement, says, in part, "The future of Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot this year, and older voters are clearly looking for a candidate who will protect these earned benefits. This poll is another sign that this district needs a representative who can stand up for seniors, not someone who will vote to cut Medicare and put Social Security in danger.”
A spokesperson for Tenney’s campaign did not return a request for comment. In New York-19, a Siena poll released in late August shows Faso with a 5-point lead over Delgado. A Monmouth poll out in September had Delgado up by 2. In August, a Spectrum News/ Siena poll showed Brindisi over Tenney, 46 percent to 44 percent. The AARP poll surveyed 610 voters in each district with a 4 percent margin of error. These are the only districts in New York, so far, that AARP has polled this election cycle.