As the midterm elections play out across the nation today, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said that providers’ “dogs in the fight” are policies, relationships and leadership in Congress.
Depending on the results of Tuesday’s elections, Sloan said, LeadingAge will be looking at what policies are most likely to progress, outreach efforts necessary to educate new members of Congress and their staff members, and potential changing leadership on committees.
“Rest assured, we are poised for whatever comes our way — we have to be,” Sloan said during a membership call on Monday. “Election night might feel like the finish line for candidates, but for us, it’s the starting line, and we are ready.”
Jonathan Voss, a partner at national public opinion and political strategy research firm Lake Research Partners, encouraged providers to settle in on election night. With record early voter turnout in this election, he said, it will be a “wait and see” experience for final election results, especially in areas with tight races or where election challenges already are being filed.
“Whose vote gets counted and the legal wrangling is a dynamic unique to this year,” Voss said. “I expect it to be part of the process moving forward.”
The issues of inflation, the cost of living and gas prices have trended to top-of-mind in most voter polls, but many voters also have voiced concerns about threats to democracy, education, freedoms — including reproductive freedom — and Medicare and Social Security.
Voss said the conventional wisdom earlier this year that the midterms would usher in a Republican wipeout started to change over the summer when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. And the narrative that Democrats would buck the trend started to evaporate due to economic concerns — most notably inflation.
“The fact that the national horse race is tied the day before Election Day in a time where there is record inflation, the incumbent party is defending a majority, is actually a pretty remarkable position for Democrats to be in,” Voss said.
Starting in 2016, Voss said, voter turnout has trended upward.
“We’re living in a period of increased turnout,” he said, adding that older voters tend to be more reliable in midterm elections than younger generations. Higher percentages of older adults, Voss said, are displaying motivation and enthusiasm to vote in this election compared with members of younger generations.
Supporting the right to vote
Ruth Katz, LeadingAge’s senior vice president of public policy and advocacy, said that one of the most powerful things those working in senior living and other areas of aging services can do is support the people they serve and care for in exercising their right to vote — including providing access to transportation, holding “coffee chats” with members of Congress, helping residents register to vote, assisting them in obtaining and returning mail-in ballots, and even opening the doors as a polling place.
And she encouraged everyone working in the sector to exercise their right to vote.
“We all want to see aging services supported, and if you aren’t exercising your choice about who is making these important decisions, you’re missing a really big opportunity to weigh in on what happens next and how it goes down,” Katz said.