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Likely Iowa Caucus Voters' Attitudes toward Social Security

This survey of likely Iowa caucus voters age 18+ examines voters’ views on the 2016 presidential election, including the importance of candidates laying out their plans for the future of Social Security and how important it is for the next president and congress to take action to make Social Security financially sound. It also asks respondents which candidate they expect to vote for and how certain they are of their choice.

Key findings include:

  • More than nine in ten Iowa caucus voters across party lines and age groups think it is important for presidential candidates to lay out a plan to make Social Security financially sound for future generations.  This includes 95% of Democratic caucus voters and 92% of Republican caucus voters. In fact, regardless of age, more than half of likely caucus voters in each party think this is “very important.”

  • Nearly eight in ten Iowa caucus voters, across party lines and across age groups, agree that having a plan for Social Security is a basic threshold for presidential leadership. This includes 88% of likely Democratic caucus voters and 86% of likely Republican caucus voters.

  • More than nine in ten voters, across party lines and across age groups, believe it is important that the next president and congress take action to make Social Security financially sound.  This includes 94% of Democratic caucus voters as well as 94% of Republican caucus voters.

  • Among likely Democratic caucus voters, Hillary Clinton is the leading choice for president (preferred by 49%), with Bernie Sanders coming in second (preferred by 42%). Of likely Democrat caucus voters, 63% say they will definitely vote for their preferred candidate and another 19% will probably vote for their preferred candidate; however, nearly one in five (19%) are less certain about who will get their vote.

  • Among likely Republican caucus voters, Ted Cruz is the leading choice for president (preferred by 31%) with Donald Trump coming in second (24%) and Marco Rubio third (12%).  Of likely Republican caucus voters, only 43% say that they will definitely vote for their preferred candidate and another 35% will probably vote for their preferred candidate; however, more than one in five (22%) are less certain about who will get their vote.

  • When asked for their thoughts about the candidates’ plans for the future of Social Security, many Democratic and Republican caucus voters said they want to hear more information from candidates in their party. For example, among Democratic caucus voters, 51% would like to know more about Hillary Clinton’s plans, and 38% would like to know more about Bernie Sanders’ plans.  Among Republican caucus voters, 45% would like to know more about Donald Trump’s plans, and 41% would like to know more about Ted Cruz’s plans as well as Marco Rubio’s plans.   

This survey of 1,007 likely Iowa caucus voters was conducted by telephone from January 4, 2016 through January 8, 2016.  By design, half of the respondents consist of likely Democratic caucus attendees (503) and half consist of likely Republican caucus attendees (504).  This report was written by Kathi Brown, Senior Research Advisor, AARP Research.  All media inquiries about this report should be directed to (202) 434-2560. For all other questions, contact the author at SKBrown@aarp.org.