At the launch of the autumn flu season and amid a rash of weather-related disasters affecting many states, almost nine in 10 registered voters (89 percent) believe public health departments play an important role in the health of their community, according to a new poll released today by the de Beaumont Foundation.

Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe state government should ensure that every community has access to basic public health protections, including:

  • stopping the spread of communicable diseases (8.5 on a 10.0 point scale);
  • bringing together other government agencies in emergencies (8.4);
  • protecting air and water quality (8.4); and
  • supporting maternal and child health (8.3).

A majority of voters (57%) said they would pay more in taxes to ensure access to these basic public health protections.

click to enlarge infographic

“Americans overwhelmingly value the protections public health departments deliver and want to ensure that every community has them,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, MA, chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. “While Americans seem divided on so many issues this election year, they are united in their support for public health because they understand the vital role it plays in their communities.”

This support for public health crosses political party, geography, gender, race, age, education, and income. The consensus support for public health was driven by overwhelming majorities of African Americans (85%), self-identified liberals (78%), Hispanics (75%), mothers (74%), working class people (72%), and Northeasterners (71%). Also expressing support were majorities of self-described conservatives (55%), white men (53%), and fathers (51%).

The poll highlights opportunities to broaden support for public health, by demonstrating the value of public service departments to voters who expressed support with less intensity than other groups — including high-income voters and men who self-identified as Republicans, age 18 to 54, college-educated, white, fathers, or lean Democrats.

Download the infographic.

Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies via telephone between Aug. 31 and Sept. 8, 2018, the poll surveyed 1,000 voters nationally, with an over-sample of 498 voters in rural areas. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% for the national sample and +/- 3.7% for the rural over-sample.

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