CARSON CITY – It’s not just jobs and the economy but the future of Social Security and Medicare that concerns Nevadans aged 50 and older in this 2012 presidential election year, according to a new poll commissioned by the AARP and released today.
The survey includes responses from Nevadans aged 50 and older, as well as results for a subgroup of those aged 50 to 64 who are still working.
Working baby boomer voters in Nevada are pessimistic about retirement, the poll results show. Of this group, 67 percent believe they will have to delay retirement and 32 percent are not confident they will ever be able to retire. Sixty-eight percent of working boomers believe the recent economic downturn will force them to rely more on Social Security and Medicare.
A large majority of Nevada voters age 50 and older want the candidates to better explain their plans for Social Security and Medicare to help them decide who they will support in November, the poll results show.
“While concerns about access to living wage jobs in a struggling economy is certainly important to most Nevadans, voters age 50-plus are most concerned about reforming/strengthening Social Security, reducing the budget deficit and reforming/strengthening Medicare,” said Maria Dent, AARP Nevada spokeswoman. “Any meaningful discussion of the economy during this year’s election has to include real plans about the future of Social Security and Medicare. For older voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ is largely the same thing.”
AARP commissioned Hart Research Associates and GS Strategy Group to conduct a series of surveys of registered voters aged 18 and over, which were conducted by telephone July 10 to16. The national survey included 1,852 registered voters.
The survey also focused on Nevada, where 408 voters aged 50 and older were polled. The Nevada results have a margin of error of plus/minus 4.9 percentage points.
Nevada is one of several battleground states expected to play a major role in the presidential race.
The surveys looked at five other battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as African Americans and Hispanics aged 50 and older.
The poll results show Nevada voters aged 50 and over are tied in their preference for president, with 46 percent each for President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney and 8 percent not sure.
In the Nevada Senate race between Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., Heller has a slight edge of 33 percent to 31 percent with 13 percent leaning to Heller, 11 percent leaning to Berkley and 12 percent not sure.
The results also show 51 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Obama’s job performance, with 43 percent in support and 6 percent not sure. The job approval rating was much lower for Congress, with 84 percent disapproving, 8 percent approving and 8 percent not sure.
The concerns of Nevada voters 50 and older highlight the importance of Social Security and Medicare as election issues. They think the next president and Congress need to strengthen Social Security (94 percent) and Medicare (93 percent). They also overwhelmingly (93 percent) think that these issues are too big for either party to fix alone and require Republicans and Democrats to come together.
Voters 50+ in Nevada are looking to the candidates for more information on these key issues. These voters think the candidates have not done a good job of explaining their plans on Social Security (74 percent) and Medicare (66 percent).
“The message from voters 50+ is clear,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president, state and national group. “In a razor-tight election, candidates have a major opportunity to reach key voters by speaking about their plans on Social Security and Medicare – and they are making a huge gamble if they ignore them.”
Earlier this year, AARP launched You’ve Earned a Say, a national conversation to ensure that Americans have a say in the future of Social Security and Medicare. To date, more than 2.1 million Americans have engaged with You’ve Earned a Say to share their thoughts about how best to protect and strengthen health and retirement security for today’s seniors and future generations.
In Nevada, the You’ve Earned a Say road tour kicked off at Lake Tahoe’s Hot August Nights the first weekend of August. AARP Nevada will also be hosting events and thought leader forums in northern Nevada during a three-day tour of northern Nevada – stopping in Reno, Carson, Fernley, Fallon and Silver Springs. A tour of southern Nevada is being planned for October.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.