Opinion: AARP Georgia poll shows America desperately needs young voters

Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker
Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Jonathan Ernst

It’s often said that wisdom comes with age, but the AARP’s new poll of Georgia voters is enough to make you doubt.

The American Association of Retired Persons, an organization dedicated to protecting the privileges of those over 50, polled 1,183 likely voters in the Peach State about the upcoming runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock and soccer star Hershel Walker.

Of all voters polled, Warnock had a narrow lead over Walker, 51% to 47%. But among those over 50, Walker leads by 9 points, while Warnock leads by 24 points among voters aged 18 to 49, according to the poll released on Tuesday.

What do Georgia seniors know that younger generations don’t? Very little it seems.

Warnock is an ordained Baptist minister, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the civil rights movement. He entered politics as an activist supporting the expansion of Medicaid to help Georgia’s poorest. He has two children but is now divorced. He is pro-choice, advocates strict gun control laws, supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, has sought to expand voting rights, and has led the Senate in passing key farm bills affecting Georgia.

Walker was a football star at the University of Georgia, later played for the NFL, and then started a restaurant business with a questionable reputation. He has one child from his first marriage, three illegitimate children and is said to have paid for two other women to have abortions. He supports family values, is anti-abortion, believes the world “has enough trees” to prevent climate change, says the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and humbly admits “I’m not that smart”.

Of course there is another difference. Warnock is a Democrat and Walker is a Republican.

Perhaps older Georgians view the runoff with cynical wisdom and support Walker as a pawn on the Republican Party’s agenda.

More likely, they just listen to Fox News nightly (or even all day) and embrace the drumbeat of that network’s victimhood. After all, Fox News viewers are much older than those of any other network.

Warnock is Georgia’s first black senator, a milestone in a state that was the center of the Confederacy. Among black voters age 50 and older in the AARP poll, Warnock has an overwhelming 83-point lead. Perhaps black voters fear Walker will be a disgrace.

Thankfully, younger Georgia voters see Walker for what he is — another Trump-backed celebrity seeking the national political spotlight.

The great poet Robert Frost warned that we must listen to the youth. His 1928 poem “What Fifty Said” fits the AARP poll:

When I was young my teachers were the old.
I gave up fire for form till I was cold.
I suffered like a metal being cast.
I went to school to age to learn the past.
Now when I am old my teachers are the young.
What can't be molded must be cracked and sprung.
I strain at lessons fit to start a suture.
I go to school to youth to learn the future.

Personally, I’ve come a long way, but I’m counting on younger voters to make the right decisions and preserve American democracy.

Chris Jennewein is Editor and Publisher of The Times of San Diego.