Voters Name Health Care Deciding Factor

Although the economy and jobs are the most important election issue, health care might be the deciding factor between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. A new Harvard study reveals that Obama has a distinct lead in this area.

The election is mostly a toss-up at this point and each day makes the outcome a little more uncertain (much to the distress of the stock market). However, a new study suggests that depending on what issue voters have in mind when they enter the voting booth, President Barack Obama is sure to win.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that Obama wins three to one against Republican candidate Mitt Romney among voters who say health care is their primary concern. When it comes to determining who to vote for, voters said that health care is the second most important factor.

However, the 20% who choose health care and Medicare as the most important issue were still far behind the 51% who cited the economy and jobs.

"The economy dominates most voters’ thinking in terms of their priorities for choosing a candidate,” Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the analysis, said in a statement. “But in a close election, the two candidates’ stands on health care issues could help swing the balance among some voters.”

According to the Harvard report, Americans are still evenly split over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with 45% reporting they disapprove the law and 44% saying the approve it. However, they are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it in place. Of those who said health care was the most important issue, 41% said they were much less likely to vote for someone who would repeal all or part of ACA while only 14% said they were more likely to vote for such a candidate.

The last time health care was such an important issue for voters was in 1992 when Bill Clinton ran on the idea of implementing nationwide health insurance.

Since the first presidential debate Romney has surged ahead in the polls, but the second debate will take place on Tuesday. If Romney does well again, it may well be that he has the election sewn up, but a strong comeback from Obama after his disappointing first performance may bring this race closer than ever.

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Harvard poll