Florida GOP voters: Don't cut Medicare, Social Security

Florida Republican voters have a clear feeling about cuts to Medicare and Social Security: Don’t do it, according to a new poll by the AARP.

By wide margins, the survey shows that Republicans of all kinds — whether they’re Hispanic, moderates or in the tea party — would rather fix the nation’s budget by withdrawing from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, eliminating foreign aid or eliminating so-called tax loopholes.

But despite these sentiments of GOP voters, many of the Republican frontrunners for president are more likely to support trimming benefits than raising tax revenues or getting out of foreign entanglements.

“There’s a major disconnect between what the candidates and other folks in Washington want and what the voters think when it comes to Social Security and Medicare,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP’s interim Florida director.

“For the candidates and lawmakers, Social Security is a budget problem we need to fix the math on. Medicare is a budget problem we need to fix math on,” Johnson said. “But this isn’t about math for voters. This is about voters’ retirement.”

The issues are particularly important in Florida, which has the largest number of retirees in the nation. The poll shows that 60 percent of the Republican primary voters in Florida are retired, and that 87 percent of all respondents say Social Security benefits are or will be important to their retirement. Nearly 45 percent say they rely on Medicare for health insurance.

What’s unclear is how much of a politically toxic issue these cuts would be. After all, Marco Rubio advocated raising the retirement age for future Social Security recipients, and he was handily chosen to be the Republican Party’s standard bearer before he won the general election last year in the United States Senate race.

The results of the 500-person Florida poll, conducted by Idaho-based GS Strategy Group, mirrors surveys taken in other states. When it comes to voters’ picks for presidential candidates, it also resembles a Quinnipiac University Florida survey that was also released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac poll shows that Mitt Romney is the favorite, garnering 31 percent of the vote, with Herman Cain statistically tying him with 29 percent. Newt Gingrich is in third place with 12 percent.

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