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Posted by: Howard Dvorkin, CPA
Date of post: March 28, 2016

Where polling matters most isn't in politics. It's in personal finance.

Much has been made this election season about the inaccuracies of polling. Hillary Clinton lost the Michigan primary to Bernie Sanders despite polls showing a huge lead in the polls, while Donald Trump has either “over-performed” or “under-performed” the polls in his primary victories and losses.

Frankly, political polling doesn’t interest me. I’m patient enough to wait a few days until the votes are cast to learn the results. The polling that really fascinates me is about regular Americans and how they spend their money, because those numbers can reveal insights that can shape both public policy and personal goals.

From studying such polls, I learned this month…

1 in 3 Americans has nothing saved for retirement

While 56 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement — which will last them a few months — 33 percent have zero saved. that’s according to a poll of 4,500 adults by Even worse: “Women are 27 percent more likely than men to have no retirement savings.”

While Sanders and Clinton argue about free college and Trump and Ted Cruz argue about free trade, perhaps they should all be talking about an even bigger problem: The impending retirement crisis.

Many Americans would delay their tax refund to combat ID theft

Tax ID theft is such  a pervasive problem, taxpayers are willing to delay their refunds if the IRS would just fix it.

“Many Americans are willing to delay the receipt of their tax refund for up to two months if it would provide the IRS time to combat identity fraud,” says a new poll from Bankrate. “22 percent of Americans are willing to wait patiently for up to 8 weeks, followed closely by 20 percent who would wait 1 to 2 weeks.”

While the candidates argue about tax rates, maybe they can all agree to fix tax fraud first. If anything seems like a bipartisan issue, this is it.

Healthcare affects retirement

While Obamacare has dominated the presidential debates, there are other healthcare-related issues on the horizon.  A poll by HSBC shows, “76 percent of Americans see poor health as the largest barrier to retirement saving, while 61 percent consider illness in a partner as a close second.”

This doesn’t just worry those with little income or savings: 63 percent of those concerned live “in households with an annual income over $79,999.” Those are some prime voters for candidates to recruit. Will they talk about this issue and the others above? In this crazy election cycle, it would be refreshing to debate the issues that really matter to voters’ bottom line.

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