AARP Poll: Mills, Moody Running Neck-And-Neck Among Maine's Older Voters; Health Care A Top Concern

Sep 6, 2018

Maine's major-party gubernatorial candidates are running nearly even among the 50-and-older crowd.  That's the finding of a new AARP poll out Wednesday.

The poll of 800 voters found Democrat Janet Mills supported by 39 percent, and Republican Shawn Moody by 38 percent.

Among the two independent candidates in the race, Terry Hayes drew 4 percent and Alan Caron 2 percent. 

The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

In other races, AARP found independent U.S. Sen. Angus King with a big lead among those over age 50.  Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said they were supporting King, while 23 percent chose Republican Eric Brakey, and 5 percent Democrat Zak Ringlestein.

The poll also asked questions about the economy. The largest share of respondents - 31 percent - said the U.S. economy is getting somewhat stronger, but, closer to home, 35 percent said Maine’s economy is "staying the same."

Older voters also have an unfavorable view of Congress. Majorities said they disapprove of the job both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are doing. 

But, as often is the case, the Mainers surveyed apparently like their representatives in the U.S. House. Both Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin lead their challengers.  But Poliquin's 3 percent edge over Democratic challenger Jared Golden is within the poll's margin of error.

The survey also asked older voters about the issues that will drive the decisions they make in the November election. Among respondents' top concerns is health care.

"Not just access to health care, but also the cost of health care.” says Lori Parham, AARP’s state director. “Prescription drugs, in particular, are a big concern to Mainers 50 plus." 

Parham says a majority of respondents indicated they want candidates to address the coming shortfall in Medicare as well as strategies to lower drug prices. 

Another top election issue among the over-50 crowd is financial security, Parham says.

“Many Mainers are concerned they'll never be able to retire, and this mirrors our last survey that we did in 2014, so we really haven't seen much positive change,” she says.

Parham says she hopes the results of the survey will spur candidates to start addressing the priority issues identified by older Mainers.

Statistics show that a higher percentage of older people vote in elections, so it might not be surprising that 89 percent of respondents said they were "very likely" to vote.

Originally published Sept. 5, 2018 at 11:43 a.m. ET.