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AARP and Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Release Survey of African-American Voters in South Carolina

South Carolinian African-Americans’ Pres. candidate priorities: affordable health care (97%), retirement security (96%), family financial security (95%)

Hours before the first Democratic presidential debate in Orangeburg, AARP and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies have released the results of a survey designed to gain insight into the issues African-Americans voters in South Carolina want political candidates to address.

The survey results show that more than eight in ten people polled consider the issues of affordable health care (85%), strengthening Social Security (82%), and the cost of prescription drugs (81%) to be important considerations in their choice of a presidential candidate. Nearly all think candidates for President should commit to action on affordable health care (97%), retirement security (96%), and family financial security (95%).

“As observers of the South Carolina political scene are well aware, the African-American vote is very important and influential in this state,” said Ralph B. Everett, the Joint Center’s President and CEO. “But it is also true that African-Americans do not vote as a block, and this poll shows that they are carefully weighing the issues and will assess the multitude of candidates accordingly.”

“While 81 percent of South Carolina African-Americans have employer provided, government sponsored, or individually purchased health insurance, almost half (45%) say it is very or somewhat difficult to pay their health insurance premiums. Health reform proposals from the presidential candidates should address rising health care costs faced by insured families if they are to connect with voter concerns,” said Everett.

“A candidate must clearly state his or her views on health care, Social Security, and other issues important to African-Americans and the public at large, so that voters will have the opportunity to make an informed choice about which candidate to vote for,” said Joyce Payne, member, AARP National Board of Directors. The survey reported that African-American voters in South Carolina are already highly engaged in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Eighty-five percent are either very or somewhat closely following coverage even though the South Carolina primary is almost one year away. To be responsive to this interest, candidates will need to aggressively reach out to African-American voters in South Carolina and nationally on issues that are important to this critical voting constituency.

Nancy LeaMond, AARP Group Executive Officer, Office of Social Impact, “African-American voters in South Carolina see that Washington is stuck in gridlock and too dominated by special interests. And AARP agrees. We need our leaders to stop bickering and work together to address the financial and health security problems that so many Americans face.” Seventy-one percent feel the country is more politically divided today and 77% consider the political process in Washington to be seriously broken.

“AARP and our allies like the Joint Center are working diligently to entice and engage the candidates to create solutions, not roadblocks in solving these critical domestic issues. Through our Divided We Fail campaign, we will see these solutions and opportunities come forward,” said LeaMond.

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