AARP
released polling today on attitudes of people aged 50 and over in Arkansas and it included a question on the U.S. Senate race. Overall, Mark Pryor led Tom Cotton 48-43 with 9 percent undecided. Voters weren’t asked about two third-party candidates in the race.

The Pryor-Cotton polling showed gender gaps — men for Cotton and women by a wider margin for Pryor.

The older vote is believed to be critical in this race, particularly because of erosion in recent times of some traditional Democratic preferences among older voters. Republicans have sold a notion — inaccurate — that Democrats have somehow harmed Social Security. This is particularly ironic in the Pryor race because Cotton is a strong supporter of privatization of Social Security and Medicare — death to both those program as they’ve been known.

The poll’s bigger picture is also important politically. Older Arkansans feel anxious about finances, with 50 percent fearing costs are rising faster than their incomes. Social Security and Medicare remain important with these voters. Drug costs are a big deal. Many have experienced workplace discrimination and they overwhelmingly support a federal law to give more workplace protections to older workers. The poll surveyed 1,200 likely Arkansas voters aged 50 or older. It included 742 retirees.

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