I recently said that, of all the advocacy groups that set up shop in the runup to the primaries back in 2007, the only one to return seemed to be ONE.
But another, AARP, has launched its own effort. It’s not as visible as those red T-shirts that Samuel Tenenbaum and his cohorts wore on AARP’s behalf four years ago, but it’s now noticeable. I had meant to listen in on a press conference call the nonprofit was having this morning about a new survey, but didn’t get back to the office from a speaking engagement in time to pull that off. But I can share the release that went with it:
Likely Republican Voters in First-in-the-South South Carolina Primary
Want Social Security, Medicare Protected from Deficit Cuts
AARP Releases Survey and Launches 2012 Republican Caucus and Primary Video Voter’s Guide
Columbia, SC – AARP today released survey results showing that by nearly 3 to 1 (68.5 percent for Social Security, 70.5 percent for Medicare), likely Republican voters in the South Carolina GOP Primary overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to reduce the deficit.
AARP’s GOP South Carolina Primary Survey highlights the major disconnect between Washington and Republican voters in South Carolina who will be critical in determining the next Republican Presidential nominee. While the Washington talks about making a deal to cut Medicare and Social Security to meet their budget target, voters say they oppose cuts to the benefits they earned and need. Almost 600,000 South Carolina seniors received Social Security in 2010 and accounts for nearly 63 percent of the typical older South Carolina residents own income. Over 99 percent of South Carolina seniors are enrolled in Medicare.
“The results demonstrate that strong majorities of supporters for every Republican presidential candidate oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits,” said AARP South Carolina spokesman Patrick Cobb. “Conservative South Carolina voters and voters who agree with the Tea Party oppose cuts to these programs. The message these voters are sending is clear: Do not cut the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned.”
The survey interviewed 400 likely Republican primary voters (age 18+) in South Carolina with the mean age of 64 with 73.5 percent identifying themselves as “Conservative.” Conducted by GS Strategy Group with funding from AARP, the research has a 4.90 percent margin of error. Over 88 percent of voters said that Social Security benefits will be important to their monthly income in retirement and nearly all – 92.3 percent – say the strength and solvency of Medicare is essential to seniors’ health care security in retirement. When asked their preference on ways to cut government spending and reduce the deficit, respondents overwhelmingly say they prefer reducing U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan over cutting either Medicare or Social Security with 73.5 percent in favor of troop withdrawls to cut spending v. 8.5 percent preferring Medicare cuts, and 73.5 percent in favor of troop withdrawls v. 6.0 percent preferring Social Security cuts.
Respondents were asked which candidate they would vote for if the primary was held that day. The survey, conducted October 18-19, yielded the following results (by percentage):
· Cain 27.8 percent
· Romney 27.0 percent
· Perry 7.8 percent
· Gingrich 7.3 percent
· Paul 5.0 percent
· Bachmann 3.0 percent
· Huntsman 1.5 percent
· Santorum 1.3 percent
· Undecided 19.5 percent
AARP will provide information to its members and all Americans throughout the election season to help voters understand where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to them and their families. As part of these efforts, AARP is launching its 2012 Republican Caucus and Primary Video Voters’ Guide on November 13.
The Video Voters’ Guide will feature one-on-one, unedited interviews with four of the top candidates on topics important to older voters, including: jobs and the economy, retirement security, Social Security and Medicare. The video will be mailed to Republican voters in the five early nominating states and will be available to all AARP members and the general public on www.aarp.org/youearnedit<http://www.aarp.org/youearnedit>, as well as through the AARP Bulletin.
The guide will feature candidates who registered at 5 percent or higher in an average of national polls. They include Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney declined repeated invitations to participate. Mediacom Communications will air the Video Voter Guide in its entirety on Sunday, November 13 at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Full disclosure: I am card-carrying member of the AARP, and the organization has advertised on this blog on more than one occasion.