Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults asked said Medicare was extremely important to their vote, 49 percent said the economy was extremely important and 41 percent said the federal budget deficit was extremely important.
However, for seniors, 46 percent of respondents said Medicare was extremely important and 51 percent said the economy was extremely important.
Fifty-five percent of those asked said they favored Medicare continuing as it is today, while 37 percent favored premium support called for by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.
Support for status quo Medicare was stronger among those 55 and older -- two-thirds of whom want to keep Medicare as it is, while half of those age 55 and younger said they favored the current system and 44 percent favored a defined contribution system.
Fifty-two percent of the public polled say President Obama was trusted to do a better job of caring for Medicare's future, compared to 32 percent who favored Romney.
Forty-five percent said they had a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act, while 40 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
The survey of 1,534 U.S. adults was conducted Sept. 13-19 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.