AARP AARP States Michigan Advocacy

Older voters worry about retirement security

Nancy LeaMond

AARP Michigan has released a new election year poll showing that 50+ voters in November elections worry a secure retirement could be out of reach for them. Voters also want to see candidates who focus on improving their financial security, as they believe incomes have not kept up with their cost of living, especially health costs, taxes and retirement security.

The poll also shows U.S. Senate candidates Gary Peters (D) and Terri Lynn Land (R) tied among likely Michigan voters age 50 and older, and a large group of undecided voters.

 Voters 50 and older made up 55 percent of the electorate in the 2012 general election in Michigan, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

 Candidates need to do more to explain their positions on Medicare (77%), Social Security (77%) and caregiving (73%), poll respondents said.

  50+ Voters’ Financial Outlook: Anxious

 The survey’s “Anxiety Index” shows that across party lines, older voters, and particularly those who are not yet retired, feel anxious about their financial security. Voters 50+ worry most about:

  • Costs rising faster than incomes (51%)
  • Health expenses (49%),
  • Paying too much in taxes (57%),
  • Not having enough to pay for care for a family member who needs assistance with daily activities (41%) and,
  • Not having financial security in retirement (44%).

 The survey also shows non-retirees, the majority of whom are boomers, believe it is hard to save for retirement (73%) and half (54%) say they’ve postponed or will postpone retirement.

 “Too many older voters in Michigan worry that a secure future is out of reach for themselves and their families,”said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “They’ve had enough of political jargon and spin. They want candidates to talk about commonsense solutions that will help them take charge of their financial future.”

 The poll also looks at voter attitudes toward the U.S. Senate candidates, Washington, Congress, President Obama and the key issues of Social Security, Medicare, caregiving, and age discrimination.

  Key Issues: Social Security

Strengthening Social Security remains a key voting issue for older voters, with 83% saying it will help make their voting decision this year. Older voters:

  • Oppose candidates who would support cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit (77%)
  • Say candidates need to do more to explain their position on Social Security reform (77%)
  • Say their expenses are going up faster than their Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) (76% of Social Security Beneficiaries)

“Voters are tired of politicians in Washington talking about Social Security like it’s a line item in a budget,” LeaMond said. “With current retirees saying their COLA doesn’t keep up with their expenses and boomers struggling to save, it is time for candidates to take a stand against cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit, and for strengthening it,for the future.”

Living Independently and Caregiving
Voters overwhelmingly want to live independently as they age and see this as a critical election issue, with 73% saying candidates need to do more to explain their position on this critical issue.

  • When tasks become too difficult due to age or illness, 50+ voters want to receive care in their homes rather than more costly nursing homes (81%)
  • Many voters 50+ have been or are caregivers (59%), or expect to be caregivers in the future (19%).


Medicare will be a critical issue in determining 50+ voters’ decisions this year. Their support will be based on where the candidates stand on specific reforms, including:

  • Reducing drug costs (75%)
  • Improving care coordination (59%)
  • Cracking down on unnecessary tests and procedures (56%)

 Voters also said that Washington should fix Medicare’s flawed payment system by reducing payments to hospitals, drug companies and other health providers. Asking seniors to pay more to fix the system was their last choice.

  Age Discrimination

Overwhelmingly, voters support the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (80%), which would restore workplace protections under the law for older workers.

  50+ Voters and the 2012 Elections

  • Terri Lynn Land (R) and Gary Peters (D), candidates in the U.S. Senate race, are tied at 36% each among 50+ voters, while 28% are undecided.
  • 60% of undecided older voters in Michigan have had difficulty finding objective and reliable information about the record and positions of candidates running for office this November.
  • Just 9% of Michigan’s likely older voters approve of Congress’ job performance.
  • More than half (52%) of Michigan likely older voters disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.

Methodology: This was a statewide telephone survey conducted among 801 likely 2014 voters age 50 and older (margin of error ±3.5 percentage points) June 10-22, 2014, including 486 retirees (margin of error ±4.4 percentage points), and 315 non-retirees (margin of error ±5.5 percentage points). Respondents were selected at random from a list of registered voters and were reached either on a landline or mobile phone.

See details of the survey results here: AARP voter engagement MI Senate survey

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