Something that could be ominous for incumbents in both political parties is the fact that boomers place a lot of the blame for their financial fears on Washington. The AARP survey shows that 82 percent believe political gridlock has damaged their economic prospects to some degree (47 percent think it's harmed their prospects a great deal). Seeing both Social Security and Medicare as crucial to their financial security, working boomers agree that the next president and Congress need to work together to protect both programs.
"We're seeing that across the board — among Democrats, Republicans and independents," pollster Strimple says. "They're all increasingly reliant on Social Security. It's not a partisan issue. Everyone wants these programs to be preserved."
The survey found all 50-plus voters evenly divided on the presidential preference — 45 percent for President Obama, 45 percent for Mitt Romney and 10 percent undecided. And the poll shows widespread discontent that the presidential candidates aren't talking more specifically about what they'll actually do to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. Roughly two-thirds think the candidates have not done a good job of explaining their plans for either program.
"The lesson for both candidates is that, while jobs and employment remains a pressing issue, voters over 50 are focused even more on the challenge of finding a secure retirement," says pollster Guy Molyneux of Hart Research Associates. "Neither candidate is addressing this issue in a satisfactory way, and the one who does could reap significant political benefits."
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