Arizona’s Older Voters Matter the Most in 2022

elderly people

By Craig Tribken

It’s midterm season again in Arizona, and the country’s election watchers and pundits have turned their eyes to the Grand Canyon State. Candidates from both parties are out in force, hitting the road to see voters in person and flooding the airwaves to reach them remotely. But with Election Day rapidly approaching, it’s clear one bloc of voters in our state will matter more than any other demographic – Arizona’s older voters.

Historically, older voters have the highest turnout of any group in Arizona, and 2022 promises to be no different. According to data from the 2018 midterm elections, 36% of voters in Arizona were between the ages of 45 and 64, and 29% were either 65 or older. Ahead of this year’s midterms, one poll found that 80% of Americans over the age of 50 are highly motivated to make their votes heard at the ballot box. Those numbers outweigh every other age group in the state, which means that every candidate running to represent Arizona this year should heed the concerns of our older voters.

While some news outlets have played up sensationalized culture war issues, those just aren’t the problems on the minds of older Arizonans. Instead, older Arizonans want to know how candidates will address the kitchen table issues they think about every day. Inflation, for example, is sitting at a 40-year high in Arizona. In some parts of the state, inflation is as high as 12.5%, and rising prices are costing families here an additional $833 per month. Many older Arizonans are living on a fixed income, and they just can’t afford those increasing costs. For example, in most cases, seniors need or want to move because upkeep has become expensive, and their current home is larger than what they can handle. Replacement is far too expensive, especially those with appropriate senior amenities and services. Their home equity is the largest part of their net worth, but cash is tied up in their home. Cash is needed to live out the rest of their life. Any move to a smaller home or a facility with senior services in which a person can age in place is out of reach.  Candidates claim to have these solutions for seniors, they need to target those voters and tell that story and their platform.

Older Arizonans can’t afford to have their hard-earned savings threatened by an unstable economy, and candidates in Arizona need to outline what they will do to cut costs and put our state back on track. We need candidates who are committed to lowering the costs of basic goods like groceries, and older Arizonans want politicians who will bring down the cost of life-saving prescription drugs. Likewise, our aspiring public officials need to explain what they plan to do to protect Social Security to the nearly 1.5 million Arizonans who count on its benefits to make ends meet.

American politics has become more defined by culture wars in recent years, but candidates who run solely on those issues won’t get very far in Arizona. Gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake and Katie Hobbs and Senator Mark Kelly and his Republican challenger Blake Masters all want to serve Arizonans in public office. If so, they’ll need to show older Arizona voters that they are serious about fixing the problems relevant to our state. If they can’t do that, older Arizonans will find other prospective leaders who can offer them a credible solution.

Craig Tribken is a well-known homelessness and housing advocate in the State of Arizona.  A local government and community leader, Tribken has advised City of Phoenix leadership officials and served as an elected Phoenix City Councilman from 1990 to 1998.