Health care — not the economy — is the top issue among Americans

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
August 06, 2020, 6:28 PM UTC

The economy is not the top issue for Americans heading into this year’s presidential election. 

Overall, 29 percent of Americans say health care is the most important issue to them, according to a new Economist/YouGov Poll of nearly 1,500 US citizens, followed by 22 percent who say the top issue is jobs and the economy. 

The economy often plays a large role in presidential politics. It was the top issue heading into the 2012 and 2016 elections. 

But this year its health care taking the top issue. That’s likely COVID-19 related. As the United States entered lockdown in March 2020 because of the spreading virus, concern about jobs and health care two issues inextricably linked by the pandemic both increased. 

Republicans and Democrats are do have slightly different views, however, and jobs and the economy still remains the biggest issue for the former.  

Nearly a third (32%) of Republicans and one in seven (14%) Democrats chose jobs and the economy as the most important issue to them. Conversely, nearly two in five Democrats (37%) listed health care as their top issue compared to Republicans (19%), which is the view more closely aligned with the overall consensus in the United States.   

Health care is the top issue among all age groups, though jobs and the economy is tied with health care as the top issue among those under the age of 30 (17%), a demographic that has been disproportionally hit by unemployment during the pandemic.  

Black Americans, another part of the population hit hard by the virus, are more likely (37%) than other groups to say health care is their top priority, though heath care is at the top in other groups as well (27% among white Americans; 30% among Hispanic Americans). 

As the pandemic ravages the economy and puts pressure on health-care systems, the Economist/YouGov data also shows fewer Americans overall eight percent view climate change as a top issue, down from 12 percent in February. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between August 2 - 4, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.3% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty