The 2018 midterms may be the most important election in the next decade. The entire U.S. House of Representatives, one third of the U.S. Senate and 36 gubernatorial seats are up in November. Democrats are attempting to regain control of Congress, state houses and governors' mansions across the nation, while the GOP tries to hold on in part through the power of incumbency.
In recent months Democrats' hopes of a political wave have risen with victories in special elections, from state house races to congressional contests. History is also on the side of Democrats-the President's party almost always loses House seats-this has happened in 35 out of the 38 midterm elections. However it is too early to say if Democrats can sustain this energy nationwide through November. With the primary season underway, and seven months to go until the general election, both Democrats and Republicans will need to focus on real issues that impact our nation's economy, healthcare system, and families.
Alzheimer's disease is just such an issue. It will cost our country $277 billion in 2018, with 1 in 5 Medicare dollars spent on the disease. Someone develops Alzheimer's every 65 seconds, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression. While elected leaders have increased federal research investment and taken important steps to improve care and support services, voters rightly expect them to do more to address the Alzheimer's crisis. Recently, the Alzheimer's Impact Movement (AIM) conducted a nationwide poll to gauge how voters think their elected leaders are acting in the fight against Alzheimer's. The results should be a wake up call for any candidate running for public office in 2018.
The AIM survey found that 4 in 5 voters support increasing federal research funding for Alzheimer's disease. And while Democrats are viewed by voters as the more effective party on this issue, 3 in 5 voters are unsure which party deserves more credit. With a majority of voters saying they are more likely to vote for a candidate who makes fighting Alzheimer's disease a campaign priority by an 8 to 1 margin, candidates would be wise to talk to voters about their plans to fight Alzheimer's and policies that can help families living with the disease.
One of the most striking results was around voters' attitude toward Alzheimer's impact on their personal retirement. When compared to other major diseases, like cancer and heart disease, voters believe Alzheimer's poses the greatest risk to their retirement. Voters over 45 were most concerned about the disease's impact on their retirement. However, surprisingly, Millennials, the largest generation in our nation, already understand that Alzheimer's poses the greatest risk to their retirement compared to other conditions.
Whether candidates are attempting to localize their races, or ride the coattails of their national parties, this survey underscores why they should highlight Alzheimer's as a top policy priority in their campaign.
Over the next seven months AIM and its advocates will continue to engage federal and state candidates across the country. We will ask them not only what they have already done to fight Alzheimer's, but also what actions they commit to take if elected to office. More and more, voters are taking note and these answers will shape how they cast their ballot.