When talking formidable industries in campaign finance, physicians — and their state and national associations — are big players.
A study published this week out of Sanford University offers a different glimpse into how physicians at the individual level have given to federal candidates over the past two decades.
And the results tell an interesting story. In sum, physician contributions increased from $20 million in 1991 to $189 million in 2012.
But with this massive 845 percent increase have come a few other changes, too.
Since 1996, the ratio of physicians contributing to Republicans has decreased substantially. This is due in large part to an influx of new donors who differ from those who had donated in earlier years — namely, more female physicians, pediatricians, and those who practice in non-profit settings.
For example, in the 2011-2012 election cycle, 52 percent of male physicians donated to a Republican candidate while 24 percent of female physicians did so. Likewise, 70 percent of surgeons donated to a Republican while just 22 percent of pediatricians did.
In 1991, about 2.6 percent of physicians donated to a federal campaign. This increased to 9.4 percent in 2012, and greater growth in donations happened in traditionally lower paying medical specialties. During this same period of time, the percentage of physicians in solo practices decreased as well.
“Between 1991 and 2012, the political alignment of physicians in the United States changed dramatically,” the study reads. “Indeed, the variables driving this change — sex, employment type and specialty — are likely to continue to be active forces and to drive further changes.”