Open Letter to Presidential Candidates: Tell Us How You Are Going to Fix Healthcare and Social Security
Note to presidential candidates. Forget about hand size and wife bashing. The majority of potential voters want to know what you are going to do about Social Security, healthcare and taxes. With the election too close to call in a recent Credit Karma survey, respondents – including more than one in five undecided voters – are actually united on the issues they say are their top priorities. Only after those concerns are addressed do the priorities start to diverge with those currently having lower credit scores tending to focus on economic issues like taxes, unemployment and college debt. Meanwhile, those with higher credit scores tended to say they would be more likely to classify foreign relations, defense spending and immigration as very or extremely important.
The differences became apparent in late March and early April when Credit Karma surveyed over 1,000 of its more than 50 million members, asking them to rate 14 issues on a five-point scale ranging from “not at all important” to “extremely important”. We compared the credit scores* of the respondents in aggregate and found that an individual’s credit score can say a lot about what issues matter to them and how that might impact their vote in the presidential election.
Here are some of the highlights:
Surprising Agreement on Top Issues
Across all credit score ranges, ages and genders, healthcare and Social Security were the two issues most frequently marked as very important or extremely important for 8 out of 10 respondents.
These findings echo a Pew Research Center survey conducted over the same timeframe. Across party lines, 71% voters do not want Social Security benefits to be reduced at all with only 26% saying some reductions for future retirees might have to be considered.
The same Pew survey showed that while healthcare is a hot button issue for both parties, voters are divided about the federal government’s role in mandating insurance.
Economic Issues vs. International Relations: Priority May Depend on Financial Perspective
After the agreement on healthcare and Social Security as priorities, the emphasis changes depending on credit score band.
Credit Karma members with lower credit scores more frequently said economic issues like unemployment, cost of higher education and wealth inequality were very important or extremely important. Respondents with the highest credit scores, instead marked foreign policy issues as very important or extremely important.
- Seven out of ten Credit Karma members with a credit score under 700 said unemployment was very important or extremely important to them, a rate that put the issue just behind taxes.
- Less than two-thirds of respondents (62%) with credit scores between 700 and 749 said unemployment was very important or extremely important. Among these members, immigration, defense spending and foreign policy were more important.
- For Credit Karma members with credit scores above 750, 55% ranked unemployment as very important or extremely important.
- Those with the highest credit scores (700 and above) ranked foreign policy and defense spending as very important or extremely important more often than those with lower credit scores.
- Three-quarters of respondents with credit scores above 640 aid immigration was extremely important or very important compared to 67% of those with scores below 640.
- While taxes ended up as one of the top three most important ratings for an overwhelming majority of members, the percent dropped considerably (to 73%) for those in the highest credit score band (above 750).
Memories of College Debt Fade with Time, Credit Score
With $1.27 trillion in outstanding student debt reported last year by the Federal Reserve, this mounting drag on the economy has become a highly charged issue with as many solutions as there are candidates.
- For those with credit scores under 640, the cost of higher education was the fourth most important issue behind healthcare, Social Security, taxes and unemployment. Nearly seven out of ten respondents with credit scores in that range (69%) ranked the cost of higher education as either very important or extremely important.
- Respondents with credit scores over 750, however, ranked nine other issues as more important. Only 52% of respondents with the highest credit scores said it was very important or extremely important.
- Three out of four millennials said the cost of higher education was very important or extremely important, compared to fewer than half of respondents over 65.
Concern for Environment Cuts Across Credit Bands
The importance of the environment was a priority for a majority of Credit Karma members regardless of their credit score, with younger respondents prioritizing the issue most.
- Nearly two-thirds of Credit Karma members (64%) said the environment is either extremely important or very important.
- Credit Karma members with credit scores between 640 and 700 gave the most emphasis to the environment. Over two-thirds of these respondents (68%) ranked the environment as very important or extremely important.
- Nearly seven out of ten millennials (69%) ranked the environment as very important or extremely important.
Rounding Out the Top Ten
The majority of Credit Karma members also prioritized government surveillance, gun control and the decriminalization of drugs.
- Government surveillance was consistently ranked as very important or extremely important by 57 percent of those responding.
- Gun control was ranked as very important or extremely important by 62% of respondents.
- More than half (55%) of those with scores under 640 ranked decriminalizing drugs as very important or extremely important compared to 40% of those with scores above 750.
Voters Still Considering Candidates
With less than a year left until the new president’s inauguration, nearly eight in ten (78%) Credit Karma members said they have decided who they would be supporting in November, but no frontrunner has emerged.
- Overall, the three leading candidates were almost evenly tied, with the support of over one-in-five Credit Karma members in each of their respective camps: Donald Trump (22%), Hillary Clinton (22%) and Bernie Sanders (21%).
- The strongest support for Donald Trump was among Credit Karma members with credit scores under 750, but above 640.
Over one-in-five (22%) respondents were still undecided and members with credit scores under 640 were the most likely to be undecided. Along with voters who may be looking for a new candidate if their first choice drops out of the primary, that leaves a lot of opportunity for candidates who address the issues members with scores in each of the credit spectrums said was important.
From late March to early April, Credit Karma surveyed 1,018 Credit Karma members who logged into their accounts and asked them to identify the political issues they were most likely to prioritize. Members ranked the issues on a five-point scale from “not at all important” to “extremely important.” We identified the top issues by calculating the percentage of responses in the two highest categories on the scale (“very important” and “extremely important”) and then ranking the issues by the percentage of responses in those two categories.
Credit score data is based on TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit scores pulled by Credit Karma members from late March to early April 2016. All data was aggregated and anonymized. Aggregate level results have a maximum 3.07% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. The survey was conducted to reflect the opinions of the U.S. demographic by percentage of participants in particular age groups in proportion to the most recent Census report. Research was conducted using the Qualtrics Insights platform.