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2020 Election: The Issues That Matter Most to Our Readers

We asked for your top three issues; here's what you said

By Richard Eisenberg
Next Avenue's 2020 Election Guide graphic

At Next Avenue, a public media website for people 50+, we know our readers care deeply about the 2020 presidential election. To find out which election issues matter most to them, we asked readers to tell us their top three. Some 209 readers responded, and their answers will help shape Next Avenue’s 2020 election coverage.

Credit: Getty Images

While some of their choices reflected issues of particular importance to older voters, others were ones affecting people of all ages.

Here’s what we heard:

Pie chart of responses

Climate change, health care and Social Security are the top three issues that matter most to Next Avenue readers. Nearly half of respondents (roughly 47%) named “climate change” as one of their top issues; about a fifth (about 21%) said health care and 13% said Social Security.

Climate Change: "If we don't figure that out, the rest won't matter much."

Many other issues were mentioned, too, and they crossed the political spectrum.

They included:

  • Health-related issues (prescription drug costs, Medicare, health insurance; long-term care and homeopathic medicine)
  • Economic issues (wages, taxes, U.S. growth, cost of living, housing, retirement, infrastructure, business regulation, energy and income inequality)
  • Education and student loan debt
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Foreign policy (international relations, wars, terrorism, military strength and cost)
  • Immigration
  • Ethics
  • Social programs
  • Gun control
  • Equality
  • Voting rights
  • Civil rights
  • Personal freedoms
  • Ageism
  • Women’s issues and reproductive rights
  • “Corrupt media
  • Politics  (political polarization; replacing President Trump, keeping President Trump, turning over Senate control to Democrats and retaining Republican control of the Senate along with taking back GOP control of the House of Representatives)

Some readers felt it difficult to pick just three issues and gave us additional ones.

Others were fed up with the state of politics today. Said one: “Why can’t we have STATESMEN (and Stateswomen? Statespeople?) instead of POLITICIANS — fed up with the whole lot of them.” Another wrote: “One message for all candidates: Keep your hands out of my pockets and your nose out of my business.”

Our Commitment to You This Election

This report is part of an ongoing series on the 2020 presidential election and other significant U.S. elections. Our goal at Next Avenue is to provide accurate, relevant and impartial reporting on the issues that matter most to older Americans. In the run-up to election day, we will report on the candidates, parties and issues so you can determine who best stands for your needs. We also want to hear from you on what issues are most important and why, to help guide our election coverage.

Here are detailed comments from a few other Next Avenue readers expanding on why they chose the issues of climate change, health care, Medicare, Social Security, immigration and women's issues:


Judy Kugel on climate change: “There are many things I would like to see change, but my biggest worry is that the Earth will not be livable if we don’t do something NOW about climate change. I am not a scientist, but am convinced by their arguments that our planet is in danger. I have children and grandchildren. What is our legacy?”

Sandy Swanson on climate change: “When our food supply becomes seriously threatened, our water supplies are contaminated and hotter or wetter regions of the country change to the point where people need to relocate, the problems will really kick in.”

Jackie J. Carroll on climate change: “If we don’t figure that out, the rest won’t matter much.”

Sandy Swanson on health care: “Health care costs continue to rise and are especially difficult for lower-income individuals, families and seniors on fixed incomes. We have excellent doctors, clinics, treatments, technology and pharmaceuticals in this country, but too many people do not have full access to care or are forced to choose whether they can afford to purchase their medications in any given month. Many of my family members struggle with paying for health care. I know this is a complicated and thorny issue within our economy and democracy. It needs smart, innovative people to work in a bipartisan way to improve the situation.”

Michael Lane on health care: “More progressive health care/Medicare for all, or at least a single-payer option under ACA [Affordable Care Act] for those of us pre-Medicare retirees.”

Vince Stevens on health care, Medicare and Social Security: “Health care, especially prescription medication, is out of hand. Even generic drugs that have been on the market for 60 to 70 years are now in triple figures. We are subsidizing manufacturers for lower pricing in other countries…Medicare and Social Security are two programs that may be the most important asset/programs for a lot of seniors. Everyone paid into the system. Yes their payments may not have been enough but they diligently paid in, what was dictated by law. To make cuts in the program would put a lot of seniors in jeopardy.”

Vince Stevens on immigration: “First, I am not against anyone coming to this country to make a better life for themselves and their family. I am against the way it is happening at the southern border. My grandparents on both sides immigrated to this country. They were proud to learn English and become a citizen. They earned their way into the system. Congress refuses to address the problem except to lay blame on each other’s party. Both parties are at fault. They are more interested in preserving their own position and selfish interest instead of what is best for the country.”

Sandy Swanson on women’s issues: “Women’s issues really shouldn’t be an issue in this country anymore. We should have access to reproductive choices without someone telling us what is good for us. We deserve equal pay. Seriously, why is this still an issue?”

We thank our readers for their responses and pledge to continue reporting fairly and objectively on the candidates and the 2020 election.

Photograph of Richard Eisenberg
Richard Eisenberg is the former Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and former Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of "How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis" and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS MoneyWatch. Read More
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