The Republican party can no longer rely on U.S. doctors as supporters and donators, as this once solid group of backers has turned toward the Democratic party over the last several decades, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
In the 1990s, the majority of political campaign contributions from physicians––61%––went to Republicans, compared to 38% for Democrats. In 2018, the numbers “essentially flipped,” with two-thirds of donations going to Democrats and one-third to Republicans, according to the report. More doctors also identified themselves as Democrats in 2016––35%––compared to 27% who said they were Republicans and 36% who were independents.
The turn toward Democratic support began in the 1960s when Democrats proposed Medicare. Over the next several decades, more women also entered the medical field. And women, who are more likely to be Democrats, make up half of all medical students today.
The American physician workforce has since changed significantly––just a few decades ago, most doctors also owned their own practices. Today, doctors are more often employed rather than self-employed with their own practice. Another roadblock to ownership is student debt, with many doctors beginning their career in medicine saddled with hundreds of thousands in student loans.
“The result is fewer business-owner physicians who back the GOP for its pro-employer policies,” the WSJ reported.
More doctors are also likely to work and live in major cities––not typical hubs of support for Republicans.
On the policy front, many doctors and healthcare industry associations oppose the GOP’s position to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The Republican party’s refusal to consider or implement gun law reform if also rubbing doctors the wrong way, further driving this group away from the party
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