"As you get older in life, you start to move toward the left, when you're thinking about health care, when you're thinking about other people's rights and futures," Banion said. "Older people believe in class, believe in dignity, believe in doing the right thing. And you see all [Trump's] doing to break that down. I am really disgusted I voted for him."
Trump, who needs to win states like
How to explain the Trump senior slide? His opponent this time, Biden, polls better with seniors than
In a Morning Consult poll from last month, voters 65 and older said defeating the virus was more important than healing the economy, counter to Trump's recent push to reopen states. Trump's approval rating with seniors also plummeted 20 points from March to April.
"Seniors have felt the wrath of this pandemic more than any other age cohort," said
"A lot of seniors, they're seeing their friends die," said Johannes, who switched her party registration from Republican in order to vote for a "viable alternative" to Trump. "I just find him offensive. I don't like his ethics."
Johannes opposed Trump before the virus outbreak -- she left her ballot for president blank in 2016. But watching his handling of COVID, she said, "just accentuated his anti-science ... anti-facts attitude." She thinks some peers may be starting to feel similarly.
"Seniors, they're taking a look at this and they're seeing family members are out of work, they may be losing their homes, and they're also very concerned about seeing their children and grandchildren," Johannes said. A close friend called her recently, upset she hadn't been able to attend her granddaughter's graduation. "There was no party, no graduation. No nothing. I think that is starting to have people take a look and say 'Could something have been done? Could this have been managed better?' "
Johannes counts herself lucky. The mother of three and grandmother of seven had to miss a few birthdays and
It's a key constituency in
"This is historic," said
"Seniors also care about who can restore the economy, who will stand up to
The reliability of older voters could make them an even more critical constituency in an election in which many people are adjusting to voting by mail.
"With the uncertainty of how voting will even happen in November, that could be pretty significant," Murray said. "Seniors will vote any way they can."
Publicly available polling data don't always break down the race and gender of seniors, so it's hard to tell more about who is abandoning Trump. But Murray said it's most likely older white voters, because senior voters of color tend to lean Democratic.
Johannes plans to vote for Biden, but she's paying careful attention to his running-mate pick.
Banion wasn't a Biden fan previously. In 2008 and 2012 he wrote in former Army Gen.
He wishes the
Banion also feels a connection to the former vice president's personal tragedies. Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident, and later in life, his son Beau, to brain cancer. Banion's only son died in a car accident in 2011.
"I'm tired of politicians that are so polished. ...
Polls shift, of course, and the softness in Trump's support from older voters could be a reaction to the virus crisis at its peak. November is more than five months away.
And many older voters back Trump.
"I think he's a very intelligent, nice person," she said. "I think comparing him to
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