- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2015

The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans is an issue both political parties have grappled with for years, but a new study suggests that there is also a connection between financial security and participation in the political process.

In 2014, 94 percent of the most financially secure Americans said they were registered to vote, compared to 54 percent of the least financially secure Americans, and estimates say that 63 percent of the most financially secure were “likely voters” last year compared to 30 percent of the least financially secure, according to the Pew Research Center.

About seven in 10 of the most financially secure voted in the 2010 midterms, compared to 30 percent of the least financially secure.

People who have the most financial security are also more likely to have contacted an elected official in the last two years and were better at correctly identifying the parties in control of both the U.S. House and Senate.

“Financial security” is a scale based on 10 interrelated items, including having a savings account, checking account, credit card, or retirement savings, and the receipt of government assistance (SNAP benefits, Medicaid), having trouble paying bills, affording housing or medical care or borrowing money from family or friends.

Most of the analysis is drawn from a survey conducted Sept. 9-Oct. 3 with 3,154 panelists.

Financial security tracked somewhat with political identification; among the most secure group, 49 percent favored or leaned to the Republican candidate for Congress, compared to 17 percent among the least secure group.

But the correlation was less evident for Democratic candidates; 42 percent of the most secure group preferred or leaned Democrat, which was the same as among the least secure group. Roughly a third - 34 percent - of the least financially secured expressed no preference in the midterm.

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