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SSA new Public Policy Polling survey conducted earlier this month finds that voters in 9 out of the 10 districts and states represented by lawmakers on the House-Senate budget conference committee strongly support protecting – and increasing – Social Security benefits.

The poll surveyed voters from five House districts – in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York – and from five states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington. Voters in 9 out of 10 of the districts are represented by a legislator negotiating the next federal budget – and facing re-election in 2014.

Specifically, the poll says that Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mike Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Representatives John Tierney (D-MA), Ron Barber (D-AZ), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Lois Capps (D-CA) “all risk losing significant support if they vote to cut Social Security benefits” – an issue on which Democrats and Republicans are at odds.

According to the poll, 70 percent of the voters surveyed in the districts and states represented by the above congressmembers say they oppose cuts to Social Security benefits; 65 percent of them on average say that they actually support increasing Social Security benefits.

Especially important to the lawmakers facing re-election in 2014 is that an average 70 percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who voted to reduce benefits.

The poll also found that in 7 out of the 10 districts and states surveyed, the majority of voters did not know that President Barack Obama and a large portion of the GOP actually support reducing Social Security benefits. Furthermore, an overwhelming 73.7 percent of voters “reported no prior knowledge of pending legislation in both chambers that would increase benefits.”

As PPP’s Jim Williams notes, “These results indicate that if Democrats align themselves with expanding Social Security benefits in this round of negotiations, they can be seen at the forefront of an issue that has significant public support.”

It is no surprise that Social Security is an important issue to Americans; according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, among the program’s many beneficiaries, senior citizens in particular depend on Social Security benefits to stay out of poverty – 14 million seniors as of 2012, to be precise.

The PPP poll was conducted between November 8 and November 10 and surveyed between 600 and 1,000 voters in each district.

Photo: SalFalko via Flickr

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