WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 25, 2012) — The outcome of November’s presidential election may hinge on which candidate Americans believe is capable of improving the economy. According to a new survey by Aviva USA, Democrats are more optimistic about the country’s and their own financial future than Republicans.

People identifying themselves as Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to anticipate the U.S. economy will improve. When asked how they expect America’s general economic situation to develop over the next 12 months, the survey revealed:

  • 33 percent of Democrats expected it to get better, compared to just 16 percent of Republicans;
  • Democrats are also more than 50 percent more likely than Republicans to expect their own household financial situation to improve over the same time period.

“Economic uncertainty remains high across America, with a low appetite for investment risk and consumers remaining generally cautious about their finances,” said Matt Spackman, Aviva USA vice president of customer insight and analytics. “According to the survey, Democrats feel more positive about the country’s and their own financial future. However, regardless of party affiliation, this survey confirmed how prevalent economic concerns still are for most Americans.”

Economic issues loomed large among survey respondents. Just 27 percent of Americans believe they have enough savings to cope with the unexpected, and two out of three believe life is more risky than it used to be. Nearly six in 10 Americans expect to work beyond the normal retirement age and are worried they won’t have enough saved for an acceptable standard of living upon retirement.

A significant percentage of Americans seem to want someone else to intervene in their financial matters. Almost one in four respondents would like someone to sort out their financial affairs, and 17 percent of Americans believe the only way to make certain they save for retirement is for it to be required by law.

“This survey reveals that some people are paralyzed by the daunting financial decisions they face,” Spackman said. “Many choose to do nothing when it comes to some of the most basic aspects of financial planning. It’s surprising that 27 percent of Americans say they do little or no financial planning.”

The Consumer Attitudes to Savings survey has been conducted annually since 2004 by Aviva plc in multiple countries in which the company operates around the world. While perceptions about the economy in the U.S. were generally unchanged from previous surveys, in Europe the impact of the Eurozone crisis clearly impacted consumer optimism and confidence.

“Just seven of 10 U.S. respondents have a savings account, just under half report they own life insurance, and slightly more than one-third have investments,” Spackman said. “It’s no wonder that two-thirds of Americans say life is more risky than it used to be. Many simply do not have the financial backstops they need to deal with life’s unexpected events or a plan to sustain them in retirement.”

Among some of the survey’s other key findings:

  • 32 percent of respondents think financial planning is too complicated to do on their own;
  • 20 percent of Americans expect to use money provided by someone in their family to fund part of their retirement;
  • 39 percent admit to feeling uncomfortable with their debt level;
  • Among those not yet retired, just 30 percent believe regularly setting aside money will be the primary means to fund their retirement. The other primary sources listed included a personal or employer pension (23 percent), working beyond retirement age (17 percent), state/government pension (11 percent) and a home (9 percent).

“This survey illustrates Americans need a better retirement safety net, but many are uncertain about what steps to take,” Spackman said. “Many Americans know they need help. The good news is there are financial services professionals out there who have the training and expertise to help guide people through those sometimes complex decisions. It’s all about having a sound financial plan. Aviva offers products that not only help protect families financially in the event of a loved one’s death, but which also can be used to supplement their retirement income needs.”

About the survey

“Consumer Attitudes to Savings” has been conducted every year since 2004. From 2010, the survey has taken place three times a year – in February, June and November – to assess consumer sentiment in Aviva’s key markets. A representative sample of 1,000 respondents is interviewed every wave in each country – with the exception of China, where 2,000 adults, aged 18+, are surveyed. The research is conducted online in all markets except China and India, where a combination of online and face-to-face methods is used. The survey was conducted by Ipsos, a leading global survey-based market research company.

About Aviva USA
Aviva USA is a sales leader of indexed life insurance and indexed annuities. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Aviva USA also has offices in Topeka, Kan., and Melville, N.Y. Aviva USA has approximately 930,000 customers and employs 1,800 people across the country. Aviva USA is part of Aviva plc and can trace its presence in the U.S. back to 1896.