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Survey: Iowa Voters Expect Candidates to Address Social Security

AARP's Take A Stand effort includes a website where people can compare the Social Security proposals of most presidential candidates. (AARP)
AARP's Take A Stand effort includes a website where people can compare the Social Security proposals of most presidential candidates. (AARP)
January 22, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa - More than nine of 10 Iowans who say they will attend a presidential precinct caucus on Feb. 1 say they're concerned about the future of Social Security - concerned enough that they want to hear specific plans from the candidates.

John Hishta, senior vice president of campaigns for AARP, which funded the poll, said the results confirm his group's belief that the issue is important.

"This is a critical election, and voters deserve to know how the candidates will lead," he said. "If someone thinks they should be president, they ought to at least be able to tell voters how they plan to keep Social Security strong."

The survey of slightly more than 1,000 likely Iowa caucus-goers showed that 94 percent of Republicans and Democrats believe it's important that the next president lead the efforts to make Social Security more financially sound. Kent Sovern, AARP state director in Iowa, said a failure to act would lead to severe consequences.

"If our leaders don't act, it's clear," he said. "Future generations could see their Social Security benefits cut up by $10,000 a year by the year 2033."

AARP has led the "Take A Stand" effort to get candidates to offer specific proposals for Social Security. All but three of the 15 candidates have proposed plans, which the group has posted on the website 2016takeastand.org.

Pollster Brad Coker with Mason-Dixon Polling and Research said the results show younger voters are just as concerned about the issue as those who are closer to retirement age. He said that proves the message is getting through to younger voters.

"They understand that more people are retiring, and that there'll be fewer people in the workforce to support those retirees," he said. "As they get older, they're going to be probably paying a whole lot more in Social Security tax than they are now."

The "Take a Stand" effort was started in November in Iowa and fellow early-voting states New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The survey is online at aarp.org/ia.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA