Economy, Benefits Top Military Voters’ Concerns

Respondents split between Republican, Democratic candidates

Both military and civilian voters are concerned about the economy. Both military and civilian voters are concerned about the economy.

Military voters are focused on the economy, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index. First Command released the latest results from the index on Friday, which show 20% of middle-class military families say presidential candidates who support military benefits, as well as jobs and economic growth, will most likely win their vote.

Civilian voters showed a similar concern about jobs and the economy: 31% ranked it their top priority. Unsurprisingly, few rated military benefits among their concerns.

The survey found 9% of military respondents rated Social Security as a top concern. Health care was a top concern for 7% of respondents, while just 4% rated Medicare premium increases as important.

Nonfinancial concerns among military voters include foreign policy (9%); climate change, gun control or immigration (7%); and education (6%).

Both military and civilian voters lean Democratic in First Command’s survey, but just barely. Forty-four percent of military voters and 41% of civilians said they would most likely vote for the Democratic candidate, compared with 39% of servicemembers and 37% of civilians who said they would probably vote for the Republican.

“Continuing concerns over the larger economy, uncertainty about the future of Social Security and Medicare and rising health care costs are financial issues of great importance to many Americans this election year,” Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, said in a statement. “But our men and women in uniform face the added worries of how military budget cuts, sequestration and defense downsizing will impact their family finances.”

Spiker noted that recent changes to the military pay and benefits structure, including the newly approved military retirement system, have intensified financial anxiety among the military population. “The positions that candidates support regarding policies on military benefits will clearly influence the votes that career military families decide to cast in the 2016 primaries,” he added.

--- Read Where the Candidates Stand on Advisors' Issues on ThinkAdvisor.

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