From 1996 to 2002, eligible physicians voted approximately 9 percentage points less than the general population.1 Since then, physician voter engagement has not been reported. We investigated physician voter participation, voter registration, and voter turnout from 2006 through 2018 in California, New York, and Texas, which are states with the largest number of physicians..
From 2006 through 2018, voter participation among eligible physicians in California, New York, and Texas was 14 percentage points lower than the general population. This is similar to research from 1996 through 2002.1 Half of eligible physicians were not registered to vote, even though wealthier, more educated voters generally have at least 50% higher registration rates.
However, after adjusting for characteristics of physicians that are associated with turnout, registered physicians had narrower but still significantly higher turnout than the general population. The reason for this pattern of physician voter engagement is unclear, but low participation may be because of the fear of seeming political while practicing medicine, in addition to other administrative and psychological barriers. It is unclear if unregistered physicians would have comparable voter turnout if they were to become registered.
Limitations of this study include potential mismatch of physicians from the NPI registry to state voter files, residual confounding owing to unmeasured factors, and uncertain generalizability to other states. Future efforts to improve physician voter participation should explore the influence of both increasing voter registration and election turnout.