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‘Gray wave’ of senior voters could be pivotal in November

(NewsNation)—Seniors have long been one of the most consistent voting blocs in the U.S., with Americans over 65 turning out to the polls in greater numbers than any other demographic. This demographic will be critical as concerns over both candidates’ ages have surfaced.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are now nearly 56 million Americans over the age of 65, a 60% increase from the year 2000.

Thanks to rising life expectancy, the current life expectancy is over 79 years old, an increase of 2 1/2 years since 2000.

When it comes to politics, older voters tend to skew Republican, with 52% of those over 65 voting for former President Donald Trump in 2020, while 47% cast their vote for President Joe Biden in the last election.

At the Culver City Senior Center in Culver City, California, seniors told NewsNation’s Nancy Loo that age is just a number. As the population of people over 65 has grown bigger than ever, the perception of what’s considered “old age” has also changed.

The seniors singing and dancing at karaoke night or attending a chair exercise class at the center will be part of a “gray wave” that could decide the election. But they are split on whether the two presumed nominees are too old to be in the race for president.

“My body’s 84, but my mind is 34,” said voter Ed Marshall, who said Biden’s age doesn’t bother him. “I’m older than he is, but it doesn’t bother me.”

When asked if he felt he could run a country, Marshall said he was just glad he was walking.

“I don’t remember everything either, automatically,” said 93-year-old Lillian Rosenbloom. “If I have to make a complete sentence, do I complete the sentence? Sometimes. It happens.”

Sixty-eight-year-old Lee Karol had a different view.

“Age, I’ve always thought, it’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter,” he told NewsNation.

“I think both of them should bow out,” said 84-year-old Jerry Gottschalk. “There’s got to be an age limit. And they’ve gone past it, both of them.”

Turnout among elderly voters is consistently higher than younger age groups, and the “gray wave” is swelling even more, including among voters over the age of 100. By 2054, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the number of centenarians to quadruple to about 422,000.

New polling from Emerson College shows older voters are the likeliest to cast ballots, with the highest percentage of people extremely motivated to vote between age 60 and 69 at 91%. Among those 70 and older, 83% say they are extremely motivated to vote.

One reason people are living longer is improved lifestyle and health care, which has also pushed the perception of what is considered “old.” Another study found that people in their 60s felt that 70 was old, but by the time they got to their 70s, they thought it was the 80s.

Another woman at the center, who was in her 80s, suggested that old age is for those over 100.

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