Republicans Have Greater Access to Basic Necessities
Well-Being

Republicans Have Greater Access to Basic Necessities

by Dan Witters, Sangeeta Agrawal, and Frank Newport

Democrats, independents twice as likely to lack money for food, shelter

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans are more likely to have access to basic necessities than are Democrats or independents. Republicans' 85.5 Basic Access Index score -- which accounts for their access to 13 different items essential to good wellbeing -- surpasses the 82.0 for Democrats and 79.8 for independents.

Basic Access Index, by political party

These findings are based on more than 400,000 interviews conducted from January 2011 through March 2012 with American adults as a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Basic Access Index is a 13-item measure of Americans' access to basic necessities, ranging from food and shelter to clean water and healthcare.

To classify respondents by political party, Gallup asks: "In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent?"

Some of the differences among Republicans, Democrats, and independents reflect the varying demographic and socioeconomic makeup of these groups. For example, Democrats tend to be more likely to have lower incomes than Republicans. However, although the differences shrink after controlling for all major demographic characteristics, they are not entirely eliminated. Political party identification appears to have an independent effect on the access measures above and beyond the impact of standard demographics.

Republicans More Likely to Have Healthcare

The list of 13 items included in the Basic Access Index includes several items relating to health. Republicans are more likely to have health insurance and to have no problem affording healthcare and medicine than are Democrats and independents. The 89% of Republicans who have health insurance, for example, contrasts with 84.7% of Democrats and 78.3% of independents. Similarly, while 13.9% of Republicans said they lack money at times to pay for healthcare or medicine, more Democrats (19.6%) and independents (21.2%) said the same.

Republicans are also more likely to visit the dentist than are Democrats and independents.

Basic Access Index Item Scores, by political party

Republicans are also less likely to struggle to afford food and shelter. Less than 6% of Republicans report that they didn't have enough money for shelter at times over the past 12 months, compared with about 10% of Democrats and independents who said the same.

And less than 13% of Republicans struggled to afford food compared with at least 20% of Democrats and independents.

basic access index item scores, by political party

Republicans are also more likely report to living in areas where they feel safe walking alone at night.

Implications

Republicans on average have higher levels of income than do Democrats or independents, and these socioeconomic differences are reflected in the three partisan groups' self-reports of access to basic necessities. The fact that Republicans are in a better position on these measures than Democrats or independents has potential political implications. Republicans, at least in theory, could be less supportive of government programs designed to focus on healthcare issues, for example, because they are more likely to have access to healthcare as it stands now.

There appears, however, to be more than just demographic differences that divide the three partisan groups in terms of their access to necessities. Even when controlling for income and other demographic factors, Republicans still maintain an advantage over Democrats and independents, possibly suggesting a more robust social support infrastructure of family and friends.

Still, the direction of the relationship between party identification and access to basics isn't clear. It is possible, for example, that the noted relationship between a Republican political identity and basic access could go in the other direction -- that people who have ascertained a lifestyle that ensures them of meeting their basic needs are more likely to identify with the ideological and political orientation of the Republican Party.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2, 2011-March 31, 2012, yielding a random sample of 405,554 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Of this sample, self-identified Independents/Other respondents comprised the plurality (40.8%), with slightly more than one-quarter each for Democrat and Republican respondents.

sample size

For results based on the sample of these three religiosity classes of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is less than ±0.5 percentage point for each group.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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