By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The pandemic has accelerated an economic crisis that has disproportionately impacted older women.
Their concerns could shape the election, as this voter group has had one of the highest turnout rates for decades, especially for Black women.
AARP and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) have highlighted new findings from a national poll and focus group that explored the priorities and concerns of Black women aged 50 and over.
Researchers said the findings highlight how older Black women plan to vote in the all-important 2022 midterm elections.
The findings also revealed what Black women over 50 views as the country’s top issues, including inflation, the economy, and the increasingly polarized political environment.
Researchers also noted that the findings show that candidates should not take these voters for granted – most haven’t decided which candidates to support yet. Their votes will likely determine the balance of power in Congress.
“At AARP, our mission is to make sure that the most important issues facing older adults get the attention and action they deserve. We know that voters aged 50 and older are the largest voting bloc in the country and that women aged 50 and up are a particularly critical cohort in elections,” stated Lisa Simpson, multicultural engagement, disparities, and equity director, at AARP.
“This is especially true for Black women, who are one of the most active voting blocs in the U.S. electorate,” Simpson said.
While women aged 50 and over make up a quarter of the voting-age population, they cast 30% of all ballots in the 2020 election.
In addition, more than eight in ten (83%) registered women voters in this age group voted.
Meanwhile, Black women are only about 7% of the population but have voted at or above 60% in the past five presidential cycles.
Black women have had tremendous influence in critical swing states like Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida.
They led the way for women of color in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election, representing almost 17% of the state’s electorate and 84% of turnout by women of color.
And in a recent election survey for AARP Pennsylvania, 79% of older Black women said they are “extremely motivated to vote” in the upcoming midterm election. “Despite all this, their votes are often taken for granted, and their concerns are ignored or not really understood,” Simpson noted.
AARP’s survey found that Black women aged 50 and over are more optimistic about the economy than women of other races and ethnicities. The majority (56%) say the economy is working well for them, compared to 52% of 50-plus women who say the economy is not working well for them.
In Pennsylvania, the AARP survey yielded similar results: 46% of Black women aged 50 and over said the economy is working well for them, compared to just 33% of 50-plus women overall.
However, they still have financial worries.
“This is truly some fascinating research,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
“It’s critical that we, as journalists, do our part to ensure elected leaders are listening by spreading the word on what truly matters to older Black women voters because we know they’ll be at the polls in November.”