Voters age 50 and older are evenly divided on their choices for governor of Connecticut, while strongly supportive of issues relating to retirement security, health care, paid family leave, and long-term care, according to an AARP-commissioned poll released Wednesday.
The telephone survey of 807 registered voters found 34 percent for Republican Bob Stefanowski, 33 percent for Democrat Ned Lamont, four percent for Oz Griebel, who is unaffiliated, and two percent for Libertarian Rod Hanscomb.
The survey is AARP’s way of keeping its issues before candidates and reminding them of the importance of the voting bloc of middle-aged and older voters.
“Most of us know, but it proves out year after year, that the 50-plus voter…consistently shows up at the polls,” said Nora Duncan, the state director of AARP. “What’s important to age 50-plus voters in elections is what’s going to decide the elections.”
The survey by Alan Newman Research is based on live interviews of voters conducted from Sept. 12 to 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The sample was 35 percent Democrats, 32 percent unaffiliated or independent, and 25 percent Republican.
Forty-one percent of those surveyed are retired, with another six percent considering themselves retired but working part-time. Fifty-two percent were very or somewhat confident of having enough money for retirement, while 41 percent were not.
The 50-plus demographic is more moderate-to-conservative than younger voters, reflecting findings in AARP surveys nationally, Duncan said. Respondents in the Connecticut AARP survey identified themselves as 22 percent liberal or progressive, 41 percent moderate and 28 percent conservative.
Lamont has been favored by the overall electorate in three previous public polls, though his leads in two polls were in the single digits. The race is widely considered by operatives in both parties to be competitive.
The AARP survey found 50-plus voters slightly favoring Democrats in other races for statewide constitutional offices, with about one-third saying they were undecided. The Democrats’ leads for attorney general and treasurer fell within the margin of error, while Comptroller Kevin Lembo led Republican Kurt Miller by five points. The poll did not cover the race for secretary of the state.
“While there might be a lack of clarity about who might be our next attorney general or governor, for instance, there is no lack of clarity about where the 50-plus voters stand on issues,” Duncan said.
Duncan said the poll should convince the next governor and General Assembly to continue the implementation of a retirement-security program authorized by state law in 2016. It creates a state-administered payroll savings program for the 600,000 private-sector workers in Connecticut who have no payroll savings option.
Seventy-seven percent said it was important for the program to become operational.
The results on issues were not surprising, reflecting previous surveys by AARP.
Paid family leave for family caregivers, a perennial issue in Connecticut, was supported by 85 percent. Shifting funding for long-term care to home care was supported by 76 percent. Lowering costs for health care and prescription drugs were important issues for more than three quarters of voters, while jobs and the economy were close behind.
Fifty percent say they have been family caregivers, and one in five say they left a job to do so.
Stefanowski has tightly focused his campaign on the state budget and supply-side economics, promising to eliminate the state income tax over eight years. Lamont has campaigned on a broader array of issues.
AARP makes no candidate endorsements, but Duncan said it was a mistake for candidates to make narrow appeals.
“Some may look at this as a one issue race. It certainly seems that way in some cases. It is not a one-issue race,” she said. “In the horse race that is Connecticut, it’s going to be won by the candidates that focus on issues that are important to the largest and most consistent voting bloc in this state. That’s age 50 and up.”
The full survey is available on line at www.aarp.org/2018StateVoterSurveys.