Health Care Among New Hampshire Voters’ Top Concerns as They Head to Democratic Primary
Recent polls of New Hampshire residents have indicated that health care and other domestic issues have replaced the "controversial U.S.-led invasion of Iraq" as the "hot-button" issues among Democratic voters in the state, the Boston Globe reports (Bender, Boston Globe, 1/27). In a recent University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll, 22% of respondents said that health care is the chief campaign issue -- ahead of the economy, which 16% named most important, and the war in Iraq, which 10% said was the most important issue. In addition, a Pew Foundation survey conducted last month found that health care topped the list of residents' concerns. A Gallup poll released on Monday found that the economy was the most important issue among state residents, with 38% saying it was the issue that would most influence their vote on Tuesday, while health care came in second, with 26% of respondents saying it was the most important issue. The third-most important issue was the war in Iraq, with 20% naming it as their chief concern (Finer, Washington Post, 1/27). A Globe survey last week found that health care topped New Hampshire voters' concerns, with 32% saying that it was the issue they most want to hear candidates discuss; 12% cited terrorism, national security and Iraq as their top concerns.
In New Hampshire, 125,000 state residents lack health coverage out of a population of 1.2 million, making the uninsured a "voting bloc that could be one of the most important of the presidential campaign," the Globe reports (Kranish, Boston Globe, 1/27). During the past two years, 252,000 New Hampshire residents -- about 25% of the population -- have been uninsured at some point (Washington Post, 1/27). New Hampshire for Health Care, a labor-financed organization whose members attend "nearly every campaign event," has collected signatures from about 50,000 people who say they will choose a candidate based on his health care stance. However, it is unclear whether any candidate has drawn significant support based on his health care proposal. "The problem is that every candidate has a health care plan, and every candidate has difficulties drawing contrasts [of] why their plan is better than all the rest," Richard Killion, director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communications at Franklin Pierce College, said (Kranish, Boston Globe, 1/27). Andrew Smith, a UNH pollster and political scientist, said that "voters may have to rely on other issues to help distinguish among the candidates" in the primary elections Tuesday, the Post reports. Smith noted that every Democratic presidential candidate has proposed a health plan aiming to reduce the number of uninsured and make coverage more affordable (Washington Post, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.