American voters are deeply concerned about retirement, new poll finds

American voters are not confident they or their fellow citizens will have enough money saved for their retirement years, according to public opinion research done for the Alliance for Prosperity and a Secure Retirement.

The uncertainty is widespread, with 80 percent of voters saying Americans are not prepared for retirement. Even more, 87 percent say the country is facing a retirement crisis.

When asked about their own preparations for life after work, only 26 percent of voters said they are “extremely” or “very” confident they will have enough money for retirement. Another 31 percent said they are “somewhat” confident. Younger voters were less confident about their retirement security than older voters, and so were those without pensions.

Polling revealed only 25 percent of voters have seen, read, or heard about state pensions being affected by elected officials’ influence over investment decisions, though several states have enacted or debated boycotts against advisory firms and banks deemed to invest in industries and companies without taking local politics into consideration.

Despite only one-quarter of voters polled being aware of politics intermingling with state pensions, in the focus group interviews conducted, opposition to state elected officials directing pension fund investment decisions was nearly unanimous. Similarly, almost all of the participants believed there to be a retirement crisis in America.

As those worries have mounted, so have state legislative efforts around the country, but the government attention is often on the nature of pension investments rather than on the financial health of pensions and other retirement vehicles.

While voters worry about whether they’ll have the financial security to retire, lawmakers are more focused on trying to blacklist advisory firms and banks accused of rejecting — or, in some cases, requiring them to reject — investments in fossil fuels, firearms, and other industries lawmakers want to protect or punish.

Half of the voters polled said elected officials should not be allowed to direct investment decisions in state pension plans, while 38 percent had no opinion. Partisan allegiances were not a factor: The reaction was virtually the same among Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters.

On behalf of the APSR, Public Opinion Strategies conducted focus groups in Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia, on Feb. 1 and Feb. 7, respectively. In each group, 2-3 respondents were enrolled in pension plans provided by state or local governments with all other participants having a minimum of $50,000 invested in the stock market across both personal and retirement accounts. A total of 38 voters participated. Groups were mixed by gender and party.

POS also conducted a national mixed-mode survey from February 26-29, 2024. The survey was conducted among N=822 registered voters nationwide. The survey consisted of 54% phone interviews and 46% text-to-web interviews. The margin of error is ±3.42%. 

For the full research memorandum, click HERE.