GOP Loses Physician Vote in Pennsylvania. What impact will this have on 2024?

Hershey, Pennsylvania was once a one-party Republican town.

“Even early on, there was an unspoken expectation that chocolate company employees would be registered as Republicans,” said the longtime resident Lou PaiolettiDemocrat, local historian and elected tax collector for Derry Township.

According to other communities in the country, as with other communities in the country, the shift in voter composition toward the left coincided with the expansion of the health care system headquarters there. POLICY.

Today, the commune (25,000 inhabitants) has never been bluer. “In my opinion, the biggest factor influencing the change in voter registration due to the move from this ‘one-party town’ is the medical center and the College of Medicine,” Paioletti said. “The medical community is incredibly diverse, and we know how much the medical center and college have grown.”

Penn State Health is a major private employer in Dauphin County, including Hershey, with nearly 17,000 employees. As the health care system expands, Hershey – once a Republican stronghold – now has an almost equal number of Democrats. From 2010 to 2022, as Penn State Health expanded, the number of Democratic voters in Hershey increased by more than 19 percent.

“The increase in the number of health care workers in the region has an impact on the outcome of Election Day,” he added. David Feidtchairman of the Dauphin County Republican Party, told POLITICO. “You can see the changes in the numbers.”

POLITICO points to Hershey as a microcosm of a trend in Pennsylvania suburbs and across the country in which doctors are an increasingly reliable Democratic constituency.

The profession skewed Republicans in the 1990s and 2000s, when many of them still worked in small and private offices and shared business interests aligned with the GOP. Most doctors nowadays work outside private practice and for integrated health care systems, contributing to policy change as medical schools become increasingly concerned with social issues and the progressivism of younger physicians.

“It used to be that doctors were, in a sense, entrepreneurs [who] they ran their own business,” one Hershey doctor told POLITICO. “So we are well-paid blue-collar workers, but we are rather cogs in a machine, and cogs in the machine prefer Democrats.”

In Pennsylvania, changing the health care system is critical to understanding the political demographics of the Harrisburg area, but also Lancaster County, the Lehigh Valley, suburban Philadelphia, and Allegheny County, where the University of Pittsburgh Major Medical Center (UPMC) is the state’s largest nonprofit employer. According to CRP data, nearly 67% of Pennsylvania physicians’ contributions to federal candidates in 2022 went to Democrats (compared to 61% to Republicans in 2012).

Voter Registration – November 2016 – September 2023

  • Allegheny County – 2016 (D +280 366) | 2023 (D+253826)
  • Bucks County – 2016 (D+9382) | 2023 (D+4752)
  • Chester County – 2016 (R +18 468) | 2023 (D+7813)
  • Cumberland County – 2016 (+29 607 R) | 2023 (R +26,477)
  • Dauphin County – 2016 (D +10 067) | 2023 (D+11757)
  • Delaware County – 2016 (D+17,569) | 2023 (D+56959)
  • Lancaster County – 2016 (R +66193) | 2023 (R+64572)
  • Lehigh County – 2016 (D +35 122) | 2023 (D+28226)
  • Montgomery County – 2016 (D + 56 510) | 2023 (D+98766)

The shift of doctors to the left coincided with increased voter turnout, as quantified in the report Journal of the American Medical Association. Historically, physicians have voted less frequently than the general population.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic and the post-George Floyd era, junior doctors tended to be liberal. According to 2019 Stanford University study, “newer medical school graduates tend to donate to Democrats as part of their campaigns; this means that younger doctors are much more likely to be Democrats than older ones.” Examples of this trend in the study included women in lower-paying specialties, such as pediatrics, who were more likely to donate to Democratic candidates.

Next year, when Pennsylvania repeats its key role in the presidential election — in addition to hosting a key U.S. Senate race — Harrisburg’s east and west coast health care suburbs will have a say in the final outcome. In a state where winning margins are perennially narrow, suburban communities like Hershey, which flipped from Trump to Biden in 2020, are essential for Republicans to improve their performance.

How modern hospitals open in this region and suburban Pennsylvania, Republicans are confronting the reality that doctors are now typically Democrats working in health care systems.

“People working in the health care industry don’t see the Democratic Party as they once did as an adversary to the industry, but more often as a partner,” he said Chris Borickpolitical scientist and pollster from Muhlenberg College.

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