“Surgeons Are Red, Psychiatrists Are Blue”; I’m Voting Democrat, How About You?

My colleagues have been buzzing about this New York Times article reporting the political leanings of doctors. Researchers at Yale merged two databases: one of U.S. physicians by specialty, with another of every voter by party affiliation, and found some very clear trends. 

Why did they do this? Who knows, but it’s been fun on social media (check out this NEJM blog post by infectious disease doc and funny guy Paul Sax).

But seriously, this is interesting stuff. Generally, the surgical and procedural subspecialists (read: higher-paid) are majority Republican, while most primary care and internal medicine (thinking-type) subspecialists are Democrat. 

They also present data on physician specialty and salary by political affiliation, which supports other studies I’ve seen and written about.  Doctors that are paid more tend to be Republican. 

The odd exception seems to be family medicine, a primary care specialty that is among the lowest compensated, but largely Republican. The authors hypothesize that they lean right because many FP’s own their own practice, so they are essentially small business owners. 

Given this contentious presidential election, the abysmally underqualified  Republican candidate, and what’s at stake for our democracy, however, I find it hard to believe that any physician would vote Trump. Maybe I’m overestimating my colleagues, but I would think that anyone who surpassed all the requisite intellectual hurdles and multitudinous years of education would just be, well, smarter than that. And nicer. 

But, I’m not picking arguments. The data is interesting and the hypotheses are fun. I know who I’m voting for. 

Gotta run! 

2 thoughts on ““Surgeons Are Red, Psychiatrists Are Blue”; I’m Voting Democrat, How About You?”

  • This is really fascinating! I wonder how it maps to gender? (i.e., if each specialty were broken apart by gender, would the line be clearer or less so?) Specialties map to income and to political affiliation, but they map to gender as well.

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