Washington, DC—New data collected for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research by Precision Opinion finds widespread support for maintaining Social Security programs, especially among women and younger voters. Overall and across party lines, the majority of registered voters favor political candidates who will preserve current benefit levels into the future.
The large majority of those polled back Social Security programs in order to ensure economic security for themselves in retirement. Seventy percent report that they do not mind paying Social Security taxes because they are sure they will receive benefits when they retire. Forty-seven percent of women strongly agree that Social Security taxes are acceptable given the future benefits compared with 38 percent of men. Over half of respondents identifying as Democrats agree that their future benefits of Social Security outweigh the tax burden (79 percent)—higher than among those that identify as Republican (57 percent) or Tea Party and Independent (69 percent), but support is strong in all parties.
An even larger majority value Social Security for the benefits provided to current beneficiaries. Six out of seven (86 percent) of registered voters do not mind paying Social Security taxes to provide security and stability to millions of retired Americans, the disabled, and the children and widowed spouses of deceased workers. More women agree (89 percent) than men (83 percent), and respondents identifying as Democrats were more likely to agree (92 percent) than those that identify as Republican (83 percent) or Tea Party and Independent (83 percent).
These views may translate into decisions in voting booths. Eighty-six percent of registered voters agree they would back candidates who will preserve current Social Security benefit levels into the future and 51 percent agree strongly. Women are more likely to strongly support a candidate who will promote Social Security benefits (57 percent) compared with men (44 percent.) Even among young registered voters polled (aged of 18-39), more than half say they will support political candidates who will preserve benefits at current levels. While support for Social Security is high across the major parties, registered voters who are Democrats favor candidates who will preserve Social Security benefits more (94 percent) than Republican (85 percent) or Tea Party and Independent (80 percent) voters.
Forty-nine percent of registered voters think that the United States does not spend enough on Social Security, while only 14 percent believe we spend too much. Americans of all ages value Social Security. The proportion of people who say we do not spend enough is highest among people aged 18-39 (55 percent) and declines across age groups to 45 percent among those aged 66 or more. Women are more likely to say that we do not spend enough on Social Security (54 percent) than men (45 percent).
Well over half of registered voters (58 percent) believe that Social Security benefits should be increased— not cut— to shore up the economic security of retired Americans who lost savings and pensions in the financial crisis. Over 60 percent of young people support increasing benefits for today’s retirees in the wake of the recession. More women (61 percent) than men (54 percent) agree with such a benefit increase for current beneficiaries.
Two out of three registered voters (68 percent) believe that cutting Social Security benefits should not be a main part of any government approach to deficit reduction. The percentage rejecting Social Security benefit cuts for deficit reduction increases with age from 63 percent of registered voters aged 18-39 to 78 percent of those aged 66 or more.
Americans Strongly Support Social Security
People Do Not Think Social Security Should Be Cut
Voters Favor Candidates Who Will Support Social Security
Results shown are for registered voters drawn from a nationally representative sample of 2,080 adults surveyed by Precision Opinion in September and October 2010. The results shown are preliminary with a margin of sampling error for the survey of
±2.2 percentage points. Funding for this Institute for Women’s Policy Research survey was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. The Institute works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and their families, and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research. IWPR’s work is supported by foundation grants, government grants and contracts, donations from individuals, and contributions from organizations and corporations. IWPR is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.