Iowa Republicans: Cut military before Medicare or Social Security

Likely Republican caucusgoers sent a strong message to GOP presidential candidates in an Iowa AARP survey released Thursday, showing they’re strongly opposed to cuts to Social Security and Medicare and would much rather reduce military spending to address the federal deficit.

That message could be made stronger by the fact that more than 20 percent of those surveyed are still unsure who they’ll support in the Jan. 3 presidential contest, the survey found.

The survey of 400 likely Republican caucusgoers by GS Strategy Group shows 64.5 percent are opposed to Social Security cuts, and 67.3 percent to Medicare cuts. Another 86 percent of those surveyed said Social Security benefits are important to their monthly income, and 87 percent said Medicare is essential to seniors’ health care security.

Those surveyed would much prefer withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to cutting Medicare (67.3 percent to 9.5 percent) or Social Security (65 percent to 8.8 percent).

Of those surveyed, 76.8 percent identified themselves as conservative and 50.5 percent as very conservative.

“Opposition to these benefit cuts among Republicans across the ideological spectrum confirms what AARP has been hearing from Iowans throughout our campaign to protect Social Security and Medicare: Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or Tea Party supporter, voters overwhelmingly oppose cuts to these programs,” said AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola.

Businessman Herman Cain led all GOP presidential candidates in the survey, with support at 25 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 21.5 percent support, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had 8.3 percent.

But more than 22.8 percent of those surveyed were still undecided, suggesting the race for the Republican nomination is still wide open, at least in the Hawkeye State.

The margin of error for the survey, conducted Oct. 17 and 18, is 4.9 percent.

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