Health Care in the 2004 Presidential Election
Blendon, Robert J.
Altman, Drew E.
Benson, John M.
New England Journal of Medicine 2004 September 23; 351(13): 1314-1322
BACKGROUND: We examined the importance for voters of health care as an issue in the presidential election of 2004, how this ranking compares with the importance of health care in past elections, and which issues voters regard as the most important health care issues in the months before the election. METHODS: We studied data from 22 national opinion surveys, 9 of them conducted as telephone surveys during the 2004 presidential campaign, 10 conducted as telephone surveys during the previous three presidential elections, and 3 conducted as national exit polls of voters. RESULTS: Voters ranked health care as the fourth most important issue in deciding their vote for president in 2004. The top health care issues for voters were the costs of health care and prescription drugs, prescription-drug benefits for the elderly, the uninsured, and Medicare. Bioterrorism and abortion were also important issues for voters. The voters most concerned about health care were older persons and those who identified themselves as Democrats. Four issues less salient to voters were racial disparities in health care, aid to developing countries to prevent and treat human immunodeficiency virus infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, medical malpractice, and the quality of care. CONCLUSIONS: Although health care ranks higher in importance among voters than most other domestic issues, it is only fourth in importance in deciding their vote for president. The health care issues of greatest concern are the affordability of health care and health care insurance. Health care issues do not appear likely to play a decisive role in the presidential election in 2004, but they might make a difference in some swing states if the race is close
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