I just returned from voting in the State of Pennsylvania primary. My husband and I decided to go when the polls opened at 7 am, and the line was out the door of our local fire company, our polling place. We expect record voter turnout in Pennsylvania, which is a good thing.
I’ve been analyzing the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008. Health care as the top 1 or 2 issue among voters has fallen to #3 after the Economy and Iraq. This is a big shift since Kaiser conducted its poll in December 2007, when the Economy ranked #3: then, 23% of American voters selected the economy as one of the top two issues for the 2008 presidential election; by February, that percentage nearly doubled to 45% of voters who cited the economy as a top-two issue for the November election. The Economy is now ranked #1 in the KFF poll.

In that time, two major economic events hit the American pocketbook: the sub-prime mortgage crisis and Bear Stearns bailout; and, the price of gas per gallon, which rose to an average of $3.50 this week. On April 8, The Energy Information Administration forecasted that the price of gas will increase an average of 55 cents this year over 2007. That’s a 20% increase over the average $2.81 price of 2007. The image on the left is from a Chicago Tribune blog post from 2006, showing real prescience on the part of that paper!

I wrote in the inaugural post of Health Populi in September 2007, Health Care is the #1 Line Item in Our National Economy, about the relationship of the price of petrol and costs of health care in our larger macroeconomy.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: What’s in that bailiwick, The Economy, anyway? The KFF poll mentions include Jobs (most cited by 31% of voters), Housing (that mortgage crisis being top-of-mind), Recession, National Debt, and Inflation. Gas prices were cited by 5% of the population along with Taxes.

This poll was taken in February. By now, gas prices are even higher than they were in February, so I would expect that petrol sticker shock will result in an even greater impact in the KFF poll findings when it soon returns to the field.

Recall that The War was begun on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction, but in the backrooms of the White House plans were drawn up to overtake oil fields. The trifecta issues of the Economy-War-and-Health are inextricably linked in the voters’ minds. Let’s hope the next President understands this intimate relationship.

I see this morning that sales of hybrid autos are way up. The voters get it!