A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that more than a third of registered voters qualified healthcare as “extremely important” and 42 percent considered it “very important.” With the majority of voters considering healthcare one of the top voting issues in the upcoming presidential election, healthcare could be a swing issue for key demographics.
Although the economy and terrorism topped healthcare among all registered voters, healthcare was the top priority among Democrats. Among Republicans and Independents, healthcare ranked among the top five. Thirty-six percent of polled Democrats pointed to healthcare costs as their greatest concern, while 28 percent considered access to medical care and insurance as their highest priority. On the other side, 42 percent of Republicans said their top healthcare priority was repealing the Affordable Care Act.
The poll also found that women were more concerned with healthcare than men. Female voters are more concerned about reproductive health issues than males, but this breakdown is not mirrored across party lines. Female Republicans are more likely to support initiatives concerning contraception, family planning or abortion; only 11 percent considered such initiatives as “bad things,” and 18 percent of female Republicans were personally concerned. On the other hand, almost 51 percent of female Democrats labeled reproductive rights initiatives as bad, and 52 percent were personally concerned. Among all voters, almost a third recognize that there is a wide-scale push to curtail women’s health choices, an increase of almost six percentage points from 2012.
This latest Kaiser poll, taken in March, also found that more of the American public is paying attention to the presidential campaign. More than 80 percent of those surveyed—an eight point increase from February--were tracking stories related to the election, and 51 percent were following campaign news “very closely.” This marks the first time that the majority of respondents were so interested in the election.
Age also plays a key role in voter interest. In a 2014 Pew Research Center poll of registered voters, healthcare was among the top three voting issues for all age groups. Among those aged 18 to 49, healthcare ranked second behind only the economy as a “very important” issue. Surprisingly, among voters aged 50 and older it fell to third place behind the economy and terrorism. However, the percentage of respondents who considered healthcare a high priority did grow as age increased.
A January Gallup poll found similar results among voters. Although healthcare ranked below the economy and national security, once again a majority of voters from both parties considered it very important. In this poll almost 83 percent of Democrats considered it a priority, putting it ahead of terrorism but less important than the economy. Only 75 percent of Republicans considered healthcare a very important issue.
Although these issues will influence voting decisions in the upcoming elections, there is little confidence that the new President or administration will be able to effectively address these issues. In an AP/NORC poll, more than 60 percent said they had little or no confidence in government, while 30 percent were only moderately confident.
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