What does a conservative shift in Americans mean for health reform?
Four in 10 Americans say they’ve become more conservative in the past 2 years. By a factor of 2:1, more Americans have turned more conservative versus more liberal. The shift for members of all three political parties has been to the right.
This right-shift finding comes from the Gallup Poll of June 14-17, 2009, on annual trends in Americans’ political ideology.
As of June 2009, 40% of Americans call themselves conservative compared to 37% in 2008. This is the highest level of self-described conservativism among Americans since 2004.
Why might this mean for health reform in 2009?
Gallup took a look at eight domestic issues among Americans holding a conservative position, including the environment, guns, death penalty, labor unions, immigration, and health care. There are two key polling questions on health care to consider:
1. Health care is not a government responsibility. As for the role of government in health care coverage, 34% of conservative Americans believed that government should not be responsible, versus 41% who said health coverage was not a government responsibility in 2009 – a 7% point increase in keeping government’s hands out of health coverage.
2. Favor maintaining the current system. Here, 63% of conservative Americans favored maintaining the current health care system in 2004, versus 56% in 2009 – a 7% decline in those favoring the status quo.
Thus, Gallup found that, although most American conservatives favor the health system status quo, they are trending away from favoring the current system. At the same time, a minority, albeit a growing one, do not want government to be responsible for health care coverage.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: America’s trending more conservative in 2009, even among Democrats. In this year of health reform politics, these numbers signal that creative compromise will be required for any health bill to be passed. Even with the addition of Al Franken as Minnesota’s junior senator, marking the sixtieth Democrat in the U.S. Senate, there are blue dogs, two sick senior health statesmen, and Arlen Specter in that mix. Health reform in the U.S. ain’t over ’til it’s over, and there’s a long way to go when it comes to wrangling over a public plan (in or out) and the concept of a “mandate.”