Personal Finance

Preventing Social Security benefit cuts is a top priority for Americans in 2020 election, survey finds

Key Points
  • When asked to pick the most important issues this November, 54% of likely voters said preventing Social Security benefit cuts, according to a poll. 
  • Other top concerns include universal health care, raising the minimum wage and shrinking the wealth gap.
  • The results come as the future of Social Security has divided the parties in recent weeks following President Donald Trump's executive order to initiate a payroll tax holiday.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump and then-candidate President Joe Biden talk before a March 7, 2020 rally at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kyle Rivas | Getty Images

When Americans go to the polls this November, preventing Social Security benefit cuts will be one of the top issues on their minds.

That's according to a  poll conducted by Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, and released with Social Security Works, an advocacy organization.

The results show that protecting Social Security ranked among the top answers, with 54% of respondents, when they were asked to pick their top three priorities for the 2020 election.

Other top issues also affect Americans' wallets. That included universal health care, with 29%; raising the minimum wage, 26%; and reducing the wealth gap, 25%.

Those who were more likely to rank preventing Social Security cuts as a top concern include women, with 67%, compared to just 39% of men.

Those ages 45 and up were also more likely to give Social Security a high priority, with 68%, versus 23% of those under 45.

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"The part about no cuts is very consistent across every poll you see," said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works.

"It's not surprising that people are concerned about climate change or want the wealthy to pay their fair share," Altman said. "But the question is when you go into the voting booth, what are you going to be thinking about, what's most important to you?

"That's what makes this poll interesting."

Meanwhile, the three issues voters said they care least about include building a U.S.-Mexican border wall, reducing taxes on the wealthy and making sure all workers can join a union.

The online survey included 1,074 potential voters. It was conducted on Aug. 7.

The results come as former vice president Joe Biden was named the Democratic nominee at the party's national convention this week.

Biden's platform calls for increasing Social Security benefits for low-income individuals and families, while increasing payroll taxes for high earners.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's executive order to put a payroll tax deferral in place has prompted outcries from Social Security advocates, who say changes like those could hurt Social Security's funding. Generally, employers and employees each pay 6.2% of wages toward Social Security. As of 2020, that phases out for wages over $137,700.

While experts say the temporary payroll tax deferral likely won't  damage Social Security financially, advocates for the program say a more permanent change would.

Biden's campaign is currently running an advertisement in Florida that attacks Trump's executive order and proposals for cuts to Social Security's budget.

"People should be aware what the parties are proposing, what the candidates are proposing," Altman said.

If I get re-elected, I will be terminating the payroll tax: Trump
If I get re-elected, I will be terminating the payroll tax: Trump