With the mid-term elections mere weeks away, voters are becoming more frustrated about being able to afford retirement, and politicians who respond to that frustration will have an advantage, says a survey released September 15 by Americans for a Secure Retirement.
Primary election battles held the day before resulted in some surprising upsets that indicate voters are not satisfied with Congress, and the survey confirms voters' willingness to push retirement issues to the front of the election, say the pollsters. "The upsets show voters feel politicians just do not understand how important retirement issues are to them, says Celinda Lake, Lake Research Partners president.
The survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling firm, in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling organization. Results confirm the issue of retirement is becoming of more concern, cutting across both parties and across all demographics.
Nearly half (45%) of the 917 registered voters surveyed said politicians' willingness to address retirement issues will be highly important in how they vote, while 53% of those over 50, 58% of women, 56% of retirees and 57% of African Americans, all important voting blocks, say retirement issues will help determine their votes.
"In these polarized times, it is rare to find Democrats and Republicans to be able to see eye to eye on anything," says Rob Autry, Public Opinion Strategies partner. However, this issue cuts across party lines with 46% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans saying they are very concerned about being able to maintain a comfortable standard of living throughout retirement.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 seats in the Senate are up for election in November. Democrats hold a majority in both houses, but the party in power frequently loses seats in the mid-term elections.
Another factor increasing the importance of the issue this year is that the number of voters nearing retirement or retired is expected to increase this year, said Matthew Greenwald, Matthew Greenwald & Associates Inc. president. The firm tracks consumer trends and issues.
In addition, the number of people who report being able to save money is decreasing rapidly, from 75% in 2009 to 69% in 2010, Greenwald said, and more people are expecting to work longer.
"The next generation of retirees is facing a different situation, than the previous generations," he says. "Previous generations had a shorter life span and were more frugal, and more could depend on defined benefit retirement plans from employers."