- Early exit polls show that a plurality of voters identified healthcare as the most important issue in the 2018 midterm elections.
- The polls could be a good sign for Democrats, who made healthcare their top issue during the campaign.
- Preelection polls also showed voters trusted Democrats over Republicans on healthcare.
- But exit polls can be unreliable and it’s unclear how the focus influenced individual races.
Healthcare was the driving issue for many Americans in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to early exit polls, and the focus could be a good sign for Democrats.
According to early exit polls, healthcare was the most important issue for a plurality of voters in the midterms. An exit poll conducted by CNN, NBC, and other major outlets found 40% of Americans picking healthcare as their most important issue. Immigration came in second with roughly 20% of people selecting it as the top issue.
An exit poll conducted by the Associated Press’ Votecast system also found that healthcare was the most important issue, but by a slimmer margin. 26% of Americans selected healthcare as the top issue with immigration nabbing a 23% share and 19% of people picking the economy.
Healthcare was a dominant theme for Democrats throughout the election season with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer imploring candidates to focus on the issue during the waning days of the campaign.
“I write to acknowledge the vital role Congressional Democrats played in protecting the Affordable Care Act and exposing the GOP’s monstrous health care agenda – and I urge all of us to continue to push this message in the next 24 hours,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues on Monday.
The focus on healthcare may also be a good, though incredibly early, sign for Democrats’ hopes of retaking the House of Representatives. According to polling done before the election, Americans generally trusted the party more on healthcare and Democrats poured money into advertising on the issue.
On the flip side, Trump and the GOP largely played defense on healthcare and attempted to turn the focus onto the strong economy or immigration issues like the migrant caravan. But that fight seems to have been blunted.
The results do come with a few caveats. Exit polls are prone to unreliability and just because voters were focused on healthcare doesn’t mean that they voted for Democrats.
But Democrats largely wanted the midterm elections to be a referendum on the GOP’s handling of healthcare and it appears the party got its wish.