Romney beats Obama 55-36 in physician election poll

October 2, 2012

Physicians overwhelmingly support Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 19 points over President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, according to a new poll.

Physicians supporting the re-election of President Barack Obama in the 2012 election are more likely to be female and employed by a hospital or health system, according to a new poll that found that psychiatrists, pediatricians, and addiction medicine physicians also were more likely to support the incumbent.

The poll , from physician staffing firm Jackson & Coker, also found that Republican challenger Mitt Romney's physician supporters tend to be male, have an ownership stake in a practice, or be an anesthesiologist, ophthalmologist, surgeon, or radiologist.

Overall, the 3,600-physician survey found that doctors overwhelmingly support Romney by 19 points over Obama. In the poll, administered last month, 55% of respondents said they’d vote for Romney, whereas just 36% said they’d choose Obama.

Not surprisingly, dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – one of Obama’s signature legislative achievements – ran high among physician supporters of Romney, who were more likely to favor a “repeal-and-replace” approach to the ACA, according to the survey.

“The ACA without tort reform … is discriminatory to doctors,” said one respondent. “If we are going to be governed by consumer laws, then we should have all the protection that any business and free enterprise receives including unionization, collective bargaining, and ability to fix our prices for services not by the government.”

The opinion of many physician supporters of Obama, on the other hand, could be reflected in the respondent's words: “Affordable, high-quality healthcare, including education, lifestyle adjustments, and preventive measures, must be available to all persons living in this country,” said another respondent. “We cannot afford to have a significant under‐class of sickly people unable to participate fully in our economy.”

Among physicians, the split between more conservative practice owners and more liberal employed doctors was the subject of a 2011 New York Times article that noted the evolving political views of those in the medical profession.

”There are no national surveys that track doctors’ political leanings, but as more doctors move from business owner to shift worker, their historic alliance with the Republican Party is weakening,” the article noted.

For example, the American Medical Association supported the ACA, a significant change for a group that opposed “almost every major health overhaul proposal for nearly a century,” the Times reported.

In the Jackson & Coker survey, here’s how survey respondents self-identified their party affiliations: 35% Republican, 24% Democrat, 26% Independent, 6% Libertarian, and 7% unaffiliated.

Fifteen percent of the survey’s respondents said they voted for Obama in 2008 but planned on switching their vote to the GOP this year. Among those physicians, the ACA and Obama’s leadership style were the most frequently cited reasons for the change.

The survey was emailed to more than 133,000 physicians and yielded a response rate of 3%, according to Jackson & Coker.