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Research News at Vanderbilt

Tennessee voters want Medicaid expansion, but many still don’t like ACA, Vanderbilt Poll shows

by | Dec. 11, 2013, 2:52 PM | Want more research news? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter »

A substantial majority of Tennessee voters want state lawmakers to accept federal money that has been offered to expand Medicaid, according to the new Vanderbilt Poll.

In a survey taken Nov. 20 to Dec. 5, 2013, of 860 registered voters by landlines and cell phones, 63 percent said they supported the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-four percent were against the expansion and 3 percent said they didn’t know.

“The decision as to whether the state should expand Medicaid as provided by the Affordable Care Act is obviously an important issue in the state, and the Vanderbilt Poll provides important information about what the public thinks. Hopefully, this will help ensure that the discussion is not just driven by engaged activists on both sides of the issue, as this is not the first time Tennesseans have expressed their approval of Medicaid expansion,” said Josh Clinton, associate professor of political science and co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt.

While a strong majority of Tennessee voters favor expansion, nearly half – 47 percent – of voting Tennesseans have a negative perception of the Affordable Care Act itself, with only 15 percent supporting the law.

The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential primary election in Tennessee, it appears that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has an edge over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican race. Christie’s name was recognized by 67 percent of Tennessee voters, compared to 51 percent for Cruz. In addition, Christie had higher combined awareness and approval among Republicans than Cruz, 50 percent to 39 percent. Cruz, meanwhile, is more popular among those registered voters who self-identify with the Tea Party than Christie by 18 percent.

“While we are obviously two years away from the formal start of the 2016 presidential election, these data give a boost to the potential candidacy of Chris Christie,” observed John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt. “Our results certainly suggest the governor of New Jersey plays well in the Volunteer State.”

President Obama’s approval rating has fallen to 28 percent in Tennessee, a dramatic plunge from the May 2013 Vanderbilt poll when he enjoyed a 40 percent approval rating and in December 2012 when he was at 45 percent. Even among Democrats, Obama’s approval has dropped significantly – from 88 percent in December 2012 after winning his second term to 68 percent now. Gov. Bill Haslam’s approval numbers are still high with 61 percent giving him a favorable rating.

Tennessee voters continue to be skeptical about the U.S. Congress, with 78 percent disapproving of the work of Washington lawmakers versus 18 percent who approve. At home, 53 percent approve of the General Assembly, with 30 percent disapproving.

A majority of voting Tennesseans, 57 percent, believe the state is on the right track. There is a growing belief that the state economy is doing better. Among Tennesseans, 66 percent view the state’s economy as “good” compared to 52 percent in May.

Voters were asked about a wide variety of other issues likely to impact the legislature during its next session, which begins in January. More findings will be available on the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions website.

Media Inquiries:
Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

  • Jeffery Fizer

    You surveyed 0.000245% of the registered voters and think you can reliably say that 63% of Tennessee voters (A predominately Republican State I might add) want an expansion of Medicaid. Lost of lot of respect for Vanderbilt Scholars there. 20% of the population is enrolled in Tenncare. I seriously question the accuracy of your survey.

  • Pjs8200

    What would probably help the numbers towards a more positive response would be if those obstructionist politicians on the right would stop with the nonsensical disinformation campaigns that are still being waged towards the uninformed and those refuse to understand exactly what ACA is and does. The congressional representative from my own district is blatantly guilty of this and when I called him on it, I was promptly banned from his FB page.

  • Marcelle Cole

    Most people are not aware of all ACA can do for them and their families and therefore are afraid of the change, want the money- fear change. If they would just educate themselves they will find this is a win win. Insurance companies have made getting affordable coverage like getting approval for a mortgage. They have a commodity that for years they got to price and only under conditions they set. Now the playing field is being evened out.