AARP poll highlights importance of entitlement reform in election

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The newly released survey found 91 percent of voters over the age of 50 want Washington to strengthen Social Security and 88 percent want Medicare fixed.

About 70 percent of these voters say getting more information on President Obama's and GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's plans on entitlements will determine their vote on election day.

The mid-July poll sampled 1,331 voters over age 50 and has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

Conventional wisdom holds that the unemployment rate and plans for immediate job creation are the most important policy issue in the election, followed closely by the deficit.

That could change, especially if Mitt Romney chooses House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate. Ryan's latest budget partially privatizes Medicare and he has in the past favored giving workers the option of using Social Security contributions to set up private accounts. 

Romney himself has embraced the Ryan budget and President Obama also signaled a willingness to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of a deficit grand bargain.

The AARP survey found 91 percent of baby boomer voters saying both parties need to come together to fix the entitlement programs.

It sampled 536 non-retired baby boomers and found high anxiety about retirement. It found 72 percent saying they would have to delay retirement and 50 percent believing they will never be able to stop working.