Over 60% of voters believe the 2020 election will directly affect their future financial stability, survey finds

Paper airplane illustration with ballot and requirements to vote Image: Paper airplane illustration with ballot and requirements to vote

In a Nutshell

Many Americans see a strong link between the 2020 presidential election and their financial futures, a new Credit Karma survey finds. The nationally representative survey, commissioned in September among U.S. adults, found that well over half of Americans who intend to vote this year (61%) believe their vote in November will have a direct impact on their future financial stability. What’s more, nearly 2 in 5 (38%) voters from our survey consider their finances to be the primary driver behind why they’re voting this year, and one-quarter (25%) say their financial situation will cause them to change how they typically vote.

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Americans’ financial situations could play a big role in deciding if — and how — they vote in this year’s presidential election, a new Credit Karma survey finds.

In a nationally representative survey of 1,045 U.S. adults, we found that more than 60% of Americans who are planning to vote in November believe their vote will have a direct impact on their future financial stability (61%). And one-quarter of those planning to cast a ballot say they’ll actually change the way they typically vote because of their financial situation (25%).

What’s more, a majority of voters from our survey said economic recovery will be the top issue for them at the polls — beating out other hot-button issues like healthcare reform and immigration. And nearly 2 in 5 voters (38%) say their finances are the primary reason they’re voting this year. (Learn about our methodology.)

At Credit Karma, we believe in financial progress for all — and voting can be a key to empowering financial progress. Read on to learn more about how Americans are thinking about their finances and the election season, then get tips to help you exercise your right to vote.

Key survey findings

Among survey respondents who plan to vote this year, nearly 2 in 5 (38%) said their finances are the primary driver behind why they’re voting this year.
Voters are paying attention to a variety of issues, but finances are top of mind for most: 56% of respondents planning to vote in November said economic recovery is the issue that matters most to them — topping other issues like healthcare reform (45%), racial justice (38%) and immigration (29%).
Of voters we surveyed, 25% report that they will change how they typically vote because of their current financial status. 
Of respondents who plan to vote in November, 61% report that their vote in the upcoming election will have a direct impact on their future financial stability.

Why will finances take center stage for many voters in November?

In our survey, we asked respondents to name the issues they most care about in the upcoming election. Five of the top 10 issues were related to finance:

  1. Economic recovery (56%)
  2. Healthcare reform (45%)
  3. Racial justice (38%)
  4. Human rights (35%)
  5. Taxes (34%)
  6. Stimulus program (30%)
  7. Immigration (29%)
  8. Income inequality/minimum wage (29%)
  9. Climate change or other conservation efforts (29%)
  10. Cost of education/student debt (19%)

Money-related issues are clearly top of mind for voters this election season. But why?

Our survey results suggest it could be due to the increased financial strain that Americans are feeling because of COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn.

In fact, our survey found that more than one-third of respondents (36%) have seen their finances worsen since the beginning of the pandemic. And 4 in 5 respondents who plan to vote (80%) say the current economic downturn has made them realize the importance of their vote.

Which type of elections have the biggest impact on personal finances, according to Americans?

Over 60% of voters from our survey say their vote in November will have a direct impact on their future financial stability. Meanwhile, over half (58%) of respondents planning to vote agree with the following statement: “The politicians and policies I vote for have a direct impact on my personal finances.” 

But which elections do Americans perceive as having the biggest and most direct impact on their financial situations? Our survey found:

  • Most respondents (60%) think federal elections have the most direct effect on their finances
  • 23% of respondents think state elections have the most direct effect on their finances
  • 17% of those we surveyed think local elections have the most direct impact on their financial situation

With a presidential election in November, it follows that financially minded voters may be more engaged this election season.

However, the notion that a federal election would have a more direct impact on your financial situation isn’t necessarily true. If you’re a registered voter who cares how politics affects your money, it’s important to vote at all levels of government. State and local leaders can determine laws and policies that are more likely to affect your immediate situation and surroundings — issues like rent, city and state taxes, tax-funded projects and more.

How finances could change the way Americans vote

One-quarter (25%) of Americans from our survey who plan to vote say they’ll change the way they typically vote this election because of their current financial situation. Of these voters:

  • Over a quarter (27%) say they’ll primarily vote for politicians in the opposite party for which they’re registered
  • Nearly two-fifths (38%) say they’ll do more research for their local elections
  • Others say they’ll vote for politicians who support policies they don’t usually support (7%), while some say they’ll actually do less research for their local elections (3%)

Tips to help you exercise your right to vote

Here at Credit Karma, we agree that this election and future elections can have a real impact on your finances — and we believe that voting can be key to unlocking financial progress. So, no matter your financial situation, political preference or location, it’s important that you make your voice heard in your federal, state and local elections.

Here’s some advice to make sure you, your friends and your family are ready to get out and vote this November.

  • Make sure you’re registered to vote. Do you know the requirements to vote in the U.S. and if you’re registered to vote? Even if you think you are registered, it’s a good idea to double check. You can do this through the Credit Karma app with our Voter Roadmap.
  • Make sure you have a voting plan. Once you’ve checked your voter status and are registered to vote, check your Voter Roadmap in the Credit Karma app to learn key deadlines for requesting a mail-in ballot to vote absentee. Or, if you prefer to vote in person, find your polling place for early voting or for casting a ballot on Election Day.
  • Make sure you’re informed on issues that matter to you. If you’re in agreement with the 56% of voters in our survey who cited economic recovery as their top issue this season, make sure you read up on candidates’ plans to boost the economy. The same goes for other issues. Being informed can help you feel empowered when it comes time to vote.
  • Get out the vote. This election season is different because of the pandemic — but that doesn’t mean you can’t vote or help others to cast a ballot. Pledge to help three friends vote this election season.

Methodology

On behalf of Credit Karma, Qualtrics conducted a nationally representative online survey in September 2020 among 1,045 U.S. adults (946 of which are currently registered to vote, or plan on registering to vote) to better understand Americans’ thoughts on voting this election year. Of the 1,045 respondents in our survey, 946 plan to cast a ballot in the upcoming election and are considered voters.


About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer an… Read more.