While the public tilts narrowly toward unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton holds a clear advantage on health care issues over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump as the 2016 national political conventions approach, and voters generally, including independents, favor Democrats on health issues, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds.
When asked which of the major party’s presumptive presidential nominees best represents their health care views, more voters choose Hillary Clinton (46%) than Donald Trump (32%), with 15 percent saying “neither.” Most partisans choose their party’s nominee, with a larger share of Republicans (11%) naming Hillary Clinton than Democrats naming Donald Trump (3%). Independent voters are slightly more likely to name Clinton (39%) than Trump (30%) as the candidate who best represents their views on health care, though nearly a quarter (23%) say “neither” does.
The survey also finds more than half (56%) of voters say Donald Trump is paying too little attention to health care issues. Fewer (35%) say the same about Hillary Clinton.
Voters are also more likely to say they trust Democrats than Republicans on a list of major national health care issues: women’s reproductive health choices, drug costs, Zika funding, Medicaid, Medicare, the government’s role in health care, the future of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs, and opioids. This again reflects the role of independents, who lean toward Democrats on each of these issues.
On the future of the Affordable Care Act, the poll finds an 11-percentage-point advantage for the Democratic Party over the Republican Party on who voters trust more (49% v. 38%). This gap exists even though voters have a somewhat negative view of the Affordable Care Act overall, with 47 percent viewing it unfavorably and 40 percent viewing it favorably. The public overall has similar views of the law (46% unfavorable, 40% favorable).
When it comes to determining the future of the Medicare program, 45 percent of senior voters say they trust the Democratic Party, compared to 41 percent for the Republican Party. Among female voters, about six in ten (62%) say they trust the Democratic Party to make decisions about women’s reproductive health compared to about one in four (27%) who say they trust the Republican Party. Democrats also hold advantages on three health issues currently in the news: lowering drug prices (an 18 percentage-point spread); Zika (14 points); and opioids (7 points).
These differences do not necessarily mean that health will be a major factor in the election, according to the poll. When asked about factors that will influence their vote, nearly half of voters cite terrorism/national security (46%) as “extremely” important to their vote for president, but in a campaign which so far has not focused on policy, an equal share (46%) name the candidates’ personal characteristics, including leadership ability, character, values, and experience, as “extremely” important.
Health care, cited as “extremely” important by 37 percent of voters, is in a group of issues ranked further down the priority list, including gun policy (38%), the economy and jobs (37%), and education (35%). Democratic and Republican voters are about as likely to list health care as an extremely important issue this cycle, which contrasts with recent elections where Democrats were more likely to rank health care as a top issue.
Other findings include:
Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll was conducted from July 5-11 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,212 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (426) and cell phone (786). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.