First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 21, 2016

First Command reports: Military voters reveal pocketbook focus for primaries

Military benefits and the economy identified by middle-class military families as the most important issues in choosing who they will support in the upcoming elections

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Active-duty voters are focusing on finances – namely, their military benefits and the economy – as the top election issues for the 2016 presidential primaries.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that one in five voters in middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) identify policies impacting military benefits and jobs and economic growth as the most important issues in choosing who they will vote for in the primary elections. Other top issues are:

  • Social Security benefits, which was ranked No. 1 by 9 percent of survey respondents.
  • Foreign policy (9 percent)
  • Healthcare (7 percent)
  • Climate change (7 percent)
  • Gun control (7 percent)
  • Immigration (7 percent)
  • Education (6 percent)
  • Medicare premium increases (4 percent)

General population voters share many of these same concerns. Civilians identified jobs and economic growth as their most important election issue (ranked No. 1 by 31 percent). But policies impacting military benefits were near the bottom of their interests (ranked No. 1 by only 2 percent).

“Continuing concerns over the larger economy, uncertainty about the future of Social Security and Medicare and rising healthcare costs are financial issues of great importance to many Americans this election year,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “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. Recent changes to military pay and benefits, such as the newly approved military retirement system, are intensifying ongoing feelings of financial anxiety. 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.”

Which party’s candidates are military voters most likely to support? The Index reveals they are relatively equally split (44 percent for Democrats and 39 percent for Republicans). Similar preferences are expressed by civilian voters (41 percent for Democrats and 37 percent for Republicans).

First Command surveyed consumers on their voting intentions as part of its ongoing research into how sequestration and defense downsizing is affecting the financial lives of middle-class military families.

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