With the mid-term elections rapidly approaching, Social Security remains a critical issue to Americans age 42 and older (boomer+ voters), many of whom are approaching retirement. The third in the weekly series of "AARP Election Watch: Pulse of a Generation" opinion tracking surveys, released new data today about voter preferences on Social Security. When given the choice, an overwhelming 79 percent of all respondents want candidates who are elected from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to work to strengthen the existing Social Security program, rather than work to create new, private accounts.
AARP found that there is great resistance among likely boomer+ voters to use Social Security tax dollars in order to fund private accounts. Seven in 10 respondents oppose private accounts (71%). In fact, there is a great deal of intensity of opposition to private accounts. Those who oppose private accounts were more than four times as likely to strongly oppose private accounts (57%) as to somewhat oppose them (14%), while respondents who support private accounts were almost evenly divided between strongly support (9%) and somewhat support (8%).
"Social Security is the only guaranteed benefit that most people will have when they retire," said David Sloane, Senior Managing Director of Government Relations for AARP. "Americans recognize that private accounts carved out of Social Security are not the answer, and are looking for other action to improve the current system."
Candidates who support using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts and who want to capture the 42+ vote could be hard pressed to do so. Nearly two-thirds of likely voters (64%) said they are either not at all likely (38%) or not very likely (26%) to vote for a candidate who supports using the Social Security taxes to fund private accounts. Older respondents in particular report they are not at all likely to vote for a candidate who supports private accounts (43% ages 61+;34% ages 42-50 and 35% ages 51-60).
Unfortunately, not all voters feel well enough informed. "Half of the voters we talked to believe the candidates have not been clear enough on where they stand on the issue of private accounts," noted Sloane. "We’re urging people to find out where their candidates stand on the important issues."
For AARP Voter Guides, additional details about the issues, or to get involved in this debate, visit www.aarp.org/issues.
The full "AARP Election Watch: Pulse of a Generation" election survey can be found at: www.aarp.org/research/legis-polit/elections/pulse_2006.html
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