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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008 — March 2008

Growing economic worries have led to a sharp rise in the economy as a campaign issue, eclipsing health on voters’ priority list, as well as Iraq. With economic concerns rising, where will health fit in the ongoing presidential campaign?  This March 2008 poll finds that health care plays a role in two ways: as an independent issue, and as part of the voters’ growing concerns about the economy.

Health care ranks third as the issue that they want presidential candidates to discuss during the campaign — named by 28% of voters, behind the economy (45%) and Iraq (32%).  Party differences exist, with health care ranking second for Democrats, third for independents, and fourth for Republicans. Overall, the share of registered voters picking the economy as the issue they want to hear the candidates talk about doubled since December.

The poll also probes deeper into how health care costs contribute to people’s economic anxieties, and finds that for at least some voters, the two issues are intertwined. In addition, it takes a closer look at political independents and those who name health care as one of the most important issues in their vote for president.  With the primary election season winding down — and big differences between Republican and Democratic candidates on the goals and details of their health reform plans — the views of these two groups of voters are of particular interest when assessing the role that health care might play in the 2008 presidential race.

The sixth in a series, the March 2008 poll was designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation.  A nationally representative random sample of 1,770 adults who say they are registered to vote was interviewed by telephone February 7-16, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points; for results based on subgroups, the sampling error is higher.

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