Most U.S. physicians who made political contributions during the 2013-2014 congressional election cycle donated to Democrats, continuing the trend away from Republicans that was first noted among medical professionals between 1991 and 2012, according to a report published April 27 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
In an analysis of physicians’ federal political contributions, 55% of contributors donated to Democrats and 45% to Republicans during the most recent congressional election cycle. In contrast, general public support resulted in the “Republican surge” in which conservatives gained nine Senate seats and increased their majority in the House, said Adam Bonica, Ph.D., of the department of political science, Stanford (Calif.) University, and his associates.
The current report shows that the shift away from predominantly Republican and toward predominantly Democratic support, which began in the 1990s, still persists for physicians.
“Given the increasing numbers of women physicians and salaried physicians, who typically ally with the Democrats, in contrast to surgeons, who typically ally with the Republicans, our findings suggest that the medical profession will be challenged to achieve consensus on health policy issues. The profession is unlikely to speak with one voice on questions such as the provision of health insurance or controlling the costs of medical care,” the investigators wrote (JAMA Intern. Med. 2015 April 27 [doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1332]).
However, this polarization among physicians “may spur both political parties to work harder to maintain and increase physicians’ support. Thus, the political divisions among physicians may have the unintended effect of enhancing the political standing of the medical profession,” they added.