- 51% say a president should release all medical information
- More Republicans than Democrats believe it should be released
- 75% say Trump healthy enough to serve; 62% for Clinton
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amid recent concerns about the health of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, 51% of Americans say a president should release all medical information that might affect his or her ability to serve. Nearly half (46%) say a president should have the same right as every other citizen to keep medical records private. This is a change from 2004, the last time Gallup asked this question, when 38% said presidents should release all information and 61% said they should be able to keep records private.
|Should release all information||38||51|
|Should have right to keep records private||61||46|
The candidates' health has erupted into a central campaign issue as both Clinton and Trump have fielded calls to release their full medical records. Instead, the Clinton and Trump campaigns have released records in a gradual fashion, leading some critics to suggest they are both being less than forthcoming. Clinton's apparent fainting spell at a 9/11 memorial event in New York City has forced this issue to the forefront. Trump too has been questioned; he released a vague, one-page health summary from his doctor last week. He then appeared on the "Doctor Oz Show" to ostensibly clarify his medical situation.
Republicans More Likely to Say Presidents Should Release Records
Sixty-six percent of Republicans say presidents should release all medical information, while 34% say they should have the right to keep their records private. Democrats are more evenly split, with 47% calling for presidents to release their medical information and 50% saying presidents should be able to keep it private. Independents align more closely with Democrats than with Republicans on this issue; 45% say presidents should release the information, and 52% believe they have the right to keep it private.
|Should release all information||66||45||47|
|Should have right to keep records private||34||52||50|
Republicans may have picked up on Trump's focus on health this election cycle in forming their responses. In 2004, when Republican President George W. Bush ran for re-election, 34% said a president should release all medical information, and 65% said he or she should have the right to keep it private. Democrats, at 42%, said all information should be released, while 57% said a president should have the right to privacy.
Most Americans Say Health of President "Very Important"
A majority of Americans (61%) say the health of a president is "very important" to his or her ability to be a good president. Another 31% say it is "somewhat important." These percentages are similar to 2004, when 70% said health is "very important." Overall, more than 90% of Americans in both 2004 and 2016 said a president's health is very or somewhat important.
|Not too important||3||5|
|Not at all important||1||2|
More Say Trump "Healthy Enough to Be President" Than Clinton
Gallup also asked Americans about a series of characteristics and qualities that may or may not apply to each candidate. Included in this list was "is healthy enough to be president." Seventy-five percent of Americans say this quality applies to Trump, while 62% say it applies to Clinton.
These ratings vary by political affiliation, suggesting that Americans' assessments may be influenced as much by their basic feelings toward the candidates as by any health-related information they have heard or read. A majority of Republicans (96%), independents (78%) and Democrats (54%) say Trump is healthy enough to be president. For Clinton, the percentages are lower across the board -- 27% of Republicans say this statement applies to her, compared with 63% of independents and 89% of Democrats.
Americans believe that a president's health is important to his or her ability to be a good leader. While that may seem like an obvious statement, Americans have long had presidents who were not in the best of health, and some concealed their health problems. Dwight Eisenhower was hospitalized for a heart attack, John F. Kennedy privately struggled with Addison's disease, Franklin Roosevelt experienced paralysis, and Ronald Reagan may have suffered from Alzheimer's disease while in office. In this social media age, however, it is exceedingly difficult to hide much from the public; the health problems of presidents past would likely be impossible to conceal today. Along with scrutiny over tax returns, legal records and other personal effects, a candidate's medical background has moved to the forefront of the presidential vetting process this year.
More Republicans now than in 2004 say a president should release all medical information. This increase may be related to recent media coverage of Clinton's alleged health problems, or perhaps the GOP believes Trump to be a vigorous, healthy candidate. Overall, more Americans say Trump is healthy enough to be president than say the same about Clinton, although a majority believe the former first lady is healthy enough. With both candidates being tentative (to varying degrees) about releasing their full health records, this issue is likely to remain prevalent through Election Day.
Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results for these Gallup polls are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 16-17, 2016, and Sept. 14-18, 2016, with a random sample of 1,033 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
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