More than half of Americans say candidates’ positions on Social Security and Medicare are very likely to impact their vote during the upcoming election – but debate over the future of these programs doesn’t appear to be prompting an increase in personal retirement savings. In fact, the number of U.S. consumers who report making financial preparations for retirement has fallen to 70%, the lowest level in three years, according to a retirement readiness index released today by Ameriprise Financial (NYSE: AMP). The New Retirement Mindscape® 2012 City Pulse index examines the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to determine where consumers are the most prepared for and confident about retirement and also tracks national and local retirement trends over time. Hartford-New Haven (#1), San Diego (#2) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (#3) claimed the top three spots on the third annual index while Washington D.C. (#30), Charlotte (#29) and Indianapolis (#28) ranked lowest. Metropolitan areas were scored based on responses to a national survey that measured consumers’ likelihood to have determined the amount of money they need to save for retirement and their actual saving habits. The index also takes into account if people report planning for a variety of activities during retirement and express confidence about achieving their retirement goals. “While the majority of Americans we surveyed express positive feelings about retirement, we’re still seeing a significant lack of confidence – in fact, nearly half admit they’re concerned about outliving their savings,” says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. “The economic environment surely contributes to this uncertainty, but with proper planning, people can regain a sense of financial security and confidence in the future.” Financial preparedness elevates top ranked metros Several things set apart the top ranked metros. Residents of Hartford-New Haven, San Diego and Minneapolis-St. Paul are significantly more likely to say they are making financial preparations, including setting aside money for retirement, determining how much they need to save and consulting with a financial advisor. Perhaps as a result, they are also much more likely to feel on track and financially prepared for retirement.