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Defense Budget Cuts Influencing Military Voters in Midterm Elections, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behavior Index® identifies sequestration concerns as important election issue for middle-class servicemembers

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Members of America’s career military are more likely than other Americans to focus on sequestration and defense downsizing as a deciding issue in the midterm elections.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 77 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) say that changes to the DoD budget – specifically those that could potentially impact their military benefits, compensation and career – are extremely or very important in choosing who to vote for in the midterm elections. This compares to 28 percent of the general population of middle-class families. Four out of five survey respondents in both groups say they plan to vote in the upcoming elections.

“Sequestration is generating considerable financial uncertainty and concern among our men and women in uniform, and that concern will be reflected in who they decide to vote for in the upcoming November elections,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Planned reductions in military spending represent a uniquely personal issue for those who have made the military their career. Our survey findings suggest that the majority of middle-class servicemembers and their spouses expect to cast their votes for the candidates who they feel best understand and are most committed to resolving this critical issue that directly affects their families and careers.”

Sequestration concerns are particularly high among career military families. September survey results reveal that:

  • 79 percent expect to be financially affected by anticipated cuts to defense spending.
  • 76 percent are anxious about cuts to defense spending, a record high.
  • 55 percent are concerned about their job security in the coming months, also a record high.

When asked how sequestration is impacting their families, roughly one third of military respondents identified issues involving annual pay, retirement and healthcare. Other issues include:

  • Reduction in housing, clothing, food and other personal expense benefits (28 percent)
  • Less likely to be promoted (27 percent)
  • Reduction in education benefits (25 percent)
  • Decrease in discretionary income for non-essentials (24 percent)
  • More likely to experience early separation or not serve to full retirement (22 percent)
  • BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) will force relocation (18 percent)

Who do military votes believe are best equipped to resolve their concerns? The Index findings suggest that middle-class servicemembers are most likely to support Republican Party candidates. When surveyed in late September, military respondents showed a clear preference for Republicans over Democrats (41 percent versus 31 percent). In contrast, middle-class members of the general population lean slightly toward candidates of the Democratic Party (40 percent versus 37 percent).

First Command surveyed consumers on their voting intentions as part of its ongoing research into how sequestration and defense downsizing is affecting the financial lives of middle-class military families.

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


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