The Voting and Marketing Power of California Seniors

shutterstock_570150349What politicians and cause marketing organizations should know about California Seniors

As is the case in product marketing, many political campaign managers and cause-related CMO’s under-market to California Seniors and Seniors in general. Big mistake. In a blind rush to capture younger voters and consumers, the power of the senior demographic continues to lack the the attention it deserves. One striking statistic exemplifies this dramatically. In the 2016 presidential election, 71% of Americans over 65 years old voted compared to 46% of 18 to 29-year-olds. (U.S. Census Bureau) And importantly, there are more Seniors than any other demographic group! California tops the list of voters with 2.4 million people aged 65 and older who voted in the last election with Florida next at 1.7 million followed by New York with 1.4 million.

“Seniors are the stability of the American electorate” says Ed Goeas, a veteran Republican pollster. “They are the only group that I believe looks out not only for their own well-being but the well-being of their children and grandchildren.” Goeas says older people are more likely to view voting as a responsibility and to care about a broad range of issues, not just those commonly associated with aging. They are more connected to their communities which also makes them more likely to vote.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic consultant, agrees with Mr. Goeas. She adds, “Older voters have started to pay more attention to student debt as they try to help grandchildren who have record amounts of student loans. Additionally, Lake believes concerns over whether Medicare will be restructured or Social Security will be cut will continue to be on the minds of Seniors in upcoming elections.

So why are older citizens more likely to vote?

  1. According to Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, older voters have a greater interest in voting because the major domestic benefit programs, like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicare affect them while younger voters simply don’t see the same benefits.
  2. Seniors also tend to vote more because they are less mobile. Eitan Hersh, assistant professor of political science at Yale University puts it this way: “People over 65 have more residential stability. The longer you are in one place, the more ties you have to the community and the more campaigns that are likely to mobilize you.”
  3. Andrea Louise Cambell, political science associate professor at MIT, adds that Seniors are more likely to vote because they have more time. “Most of them are retired, and they have the disposable income to make campaign contributions and the skills to write letters to politicians.”
  4. Lastly, and again from Eitan Hersh, he believes that Seniors tend to vote more because of social norms. In effect, Seniors are proud of voting. “They think of themselves as voters, and they care about being a voter. People detached from the election system are perfectly willing to say they didn’t vote.”

Krystin Turczynski, in an article titled The Importance of the Senior Vote for Alameda Senior Magazine, sums it up this way:

“Seniors are able to come together and defend their interests by contacting their elected officials, donating money, and yes, voting. With demographics in their favor, there is every reason to believe Seniors will continue to make their voices heard”

According to the International Longevity Center, by 2025, one in every 5 Americans will be 65 or older. And the Boston Consulting Group states that just 15% of companies have any sort of marketing or business strategy focused on older adults.  For marketers in almost every business, it’s time to give Seniors the attention they deserve–especially if you’re involved in a political or cause-related campaign. Seniors vote for people, for issues, and they certainly vote with their wallet.

Photo by vectorfusionart




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