The results of the ADVANCE 2012 Election Survey reveal the political leanings of healthcare workers, with special attention to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The two most important issues affecting a voting decision were the economy/employment and healthcare, according to data submitted online by 3,716 respondents during August. The majority of respondents, 41.15 percent, plan to vote for Mitt Romney in November, while 39.05 percent will cast a vote for Barack Obama. With such close results, the 9.53 percent of respondents who remain undecided is significant.
The average respondent to the 2012 ADVANCE Election Survey is a white female between the ages of 51 and 60 living in the South. She has worked as a nurse for 30 or more years in a suburban nonprofit hospital. Though she identifies as a Democrat, she will vote for Romney on Nov. 6. Our average respondent is more likely to vote due to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ACA and does not believe there should be a federal mandate for health insurance. She expects employment uncertainty in the healthcare sector will stay the same in the upcoming presidential term.
Top Three Issues
When asked what top issues are influencing respondents' votes in the 2012 presidential election, the majority (58.61 percent or 2,178 respondents) selected the economy and employment as their most important election issue. Healthcare was selected by 22.77 percent (846 respondents), followed by women's health at 3.34 percent (124 respondents) and social security at 3.23 percent (120 respondents). The issues with the fewest responses were foreign policy, gun rights, and immigration.
Reaction to ACA
When asked if the Supreme Court decision to uphold the ACA made respondents more likely to vote in November, 67.90 percent (2,523 respondents) said, "Yes." About one-third of respondents, 32.10 percent (1,193 respondents) said, "No." The vote was nearly split when asked if the ACA is positive for the U.S. healthcare system's future: 50.65 percent (1,882 respondents) said, "No," while 49.35 percent (1,834 respondents) said, "Yes." Another small margin win: The majority (56.24 percent or 2,090 respondents) believes there should not be a federal mandate for individuals to have health insurance; 43.76 percent (1,626 respondents) believe there should be federal regulation.
When asked, "Do you expect job uncertainty for healthcare professionals will increase, decrease, or stay the same after the 2012 presidential election?" nearly 46 percent of respondents believe the uncertainty of healthcare's future will stay the same (45.83 percent or 1,703 respondents) or increase (34.36 percent or 1,277 respondents). At 19.81 percent (736 respondents), the least popular response was "decrease."
When asked which political party respondents identified with, the majority selected the Democratic Party, at 29.31 percent (1,089 respondents). In a close second, 28.23 percent (1,049 respondents) are members of the Republican Party; 27.50 percent (1,022 respondents) identify as Independent.
Here are the totals for the remainder of political affiliations:
• I prefer not to answer: 9.66 percent (359)
• Other: 1.80 percent (67)
• Tea Party Patriot: 1.64 percent (61)
• Libertarian Party: 1.32 percent (49)
• Green Party: 0.38 percent (14)
• Constitution Party: 0.16 percent (6)
Write-ins for the "other" category include none/no party affiliation, "I vote for the party not the person," varies, and conservative.
When asked which candidate respondents plan to vote for, the majority selected Republican Party candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 41.15 percent (1,529 respondents), despite identifying primarily as Democrats. At just under 2 percentage points less, Barack Obama garnered 39.05 percent (1,451 respondents). In addition, 9.53 percent (354) of respondents were undecided, and 8.42 percent (313 respondents) preferred not to answer.
The largest group of respondents to the election survey was nurses with 20.75 percent (771), followed by nurse practitioners with 16.28 percent (605), and laboratory professionals with 12.33 percent (458). Of the 15 professional discipline options we provided, here are the percentage totals of respondents:
• health information: 7.35 percent (273)
• physical therapist: 6.40 percent (238)
• other: 6 percent (223)
• speech pathologist: 5.81 percent (216)
• occupational therapist: 5.44 percent (202)
• respiratory therapist: 5.19 percent (193)
• physician assistant: 4.17 percent (155)
• health executive/administrator: 3.98 percent (148)
• imaging and radiation oncology: 3.18 percent (118)
• sleep medicine: 1.59 percent (59)
• audiologist: 1.00 percent (37)
• physician: 0.54 percent (20)
Write-in answers for the "other" category include certified professional coder, medical transcriptionist, diagnostic medical sonographer, sociologist, dietician, pharmacist, fertility care practitioner, licensed clinical social worker, educator, dentist, acupuncturist, cancer registrar, and case manager.
Career Background and Employment Setting
When asked how many years respondents have worked as healthcare professionals, the majority indicated 33 years or more, at 41.01 percent (1,524). The second largest group of respondents indicated they have worked professionally between 26 and 30 years, at 13.91 percent (517). In third, 10.58 percent (393) have worked in healthcare for 16 to 20 years.
From the 3,716 responses, 46.53 percent (1,729) identified their primary employment setting as suburban. A metropolitan setting was the second highest, at 32.16 percent (1,195), while rural areas had the fewest responses, at 21.31 percent (792).
The majority of respondents, 17.14 percent (637) work in a nonprofit hospital. Thirteen percent of respondents (495) chose "other" as their employment setting, while 9.63 percent (358) selected private practice.
The remainder of the top 10 places of employment is as follows:
• academic hospital: 8.26 percent (307)
• outpatient clinic: 7.91 percent (294)
• private company: 5.46 percent (203)
• for-profit hospital: 4.71 percent (175)
• retired: 3.98 percent (148)
• skilled nursing facility/sub acute care facility: 3.9 percent (145)
• long term care facility: 3.63 percent (135)
The majority of respondents to the survey live in the Southern U.S. (38.19 percent or 1,419). The second largest group selected the Northeast (24 percent or 892) and the Midwest (24.58 percent or 802), while 15.55 percent (578) live in the West. The smallest group of respondents lives in the Pacific (0.67 percent or 25).
Age, Gender, Race
Of the pool of survey respondents, the majority (40.77 percent or 1,515) are between 51 and 60 years old. The second most common age group is 61 to 70, at 23.55 percent (875 respondents). Only one respondent is under 21.
The vast majority of respondents are female, comprising 79.66 percent (2,960). Alternatively, 20.35 percent (756) identified themselves as male.
In response to the question, "What is your race?" 81.97 percent (3,046 respondents) identified Caucasian. The second most populated response at 4.36 percent (162 respondents) is African American, and 2.29 percent (85 respondents) is Hispanic. The remainder of options, including Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Native American or Alaska Native, and mixed race received fewer than 2 percent of responses. Finally, 6.84 percent of respondents preferred not to answer the question.
Kelly Wolfgang is on staff at ADVANCE.