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MTSU Spring Poll 2: Obamacare, immigration, Trump ...

MTSU Spring Poll 2: Obamacare, immigration, Trump claims, guns, more

Tennessee voters dislike Obamacare and want it repealed, but not until they’ve seen details of a replacement plan, the latest MTSU Poll shows.

They also support banning immigration from “terror-prone regions” but think illegal immigrants already here should be able to stay and apply for citizenship, and they split about evenly over believing, doubting or not knowing what to think about President Donald Trump’s repeated claim, without supplying evidence, that millions of illegal voters prevented him from winning the popular vote during the 2016 election.

“Most of these opinions divide sharply along political party lines,” said Ken Blake, Ph.D., director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “But there are some perhaps surprising areas of cross-party agreement.”MTSU Poll combo logo-NEW WEB

In still other findings from the latest poll:

  • 51 percent favor requiring people to get a permit before carrying a handgun.
  • 56 percent think abortion should be illegal in most, or all, cases.
  • 67 percent want seatbelts on school buses, few think achievement testing in schools has improved schools’ performance, and opinion divides about evenly between those who support and oppose school vouchers.
Repeal Obamacare? Yes, but not so fast

Sixty-one percent of Tennessee voters have an “unfavorable” view of the health reform bill “known as the Affordable Care Act and sometimes referred to as Obamacare,” and just about as many (60 percent) think Congress should repeal it. Only 31 percent hold a favorable view of the law, and 32 percent think Congress should not repeal it.

But most of those who want Congress to repeal the law want to see details of a replacement plan first, the poll found. A follow-up question posed only to voters who said they wanted the law repealed found that 67 percent of these repeal supporters thought lawmakers “should wait to vote on a repeal until the details of a replacement plan have been announced.” A significantly smaller 28 percent of them thought lawmakers should “vote to repeal the law immediately and work out details of a replacement plan later.”

Not surprisingly, attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act are highly partisan, with 88 percent of Republicans holding unfavorable views of it compared to 58 percent of independents and only 16 percent of Democrats. A nearly identical pattern is evident in support for repealing the law: 87 percent of Republicans favor repeal, compared to 58 percent of independents and just 16 percent of Democrats.

Tennessee voters appear considerably more eager than Americans as a whole to see the law rolled back. Identical questions in a December 2016 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 49 percent of Americans wanted the law repealed.

Immigrants from “terror-prone” regions less welcome than illegal ones already here

A solid 56 percent majority of state voters support “suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions.” Thirty-one (31) percent are opposed, and the rest don’t know or give no answer.

They express relatively more benevolence, though, toward illegal immigrants already here. Asked about “illegal immigrants who are living in the U.S.,” 56 percent of voters in Tennessee say such individuals “should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and eventually apply for citizenship.” The next-largest group, 31 percent, say they “should be required to leave the U.S.,” and 6 percent say they should “be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, but not be allowed to apply for citizenship.” The rest aren’t sure or give no answer.

These attitudes, too, have sharp partisan divides. Seventy-eight (78) percent of Republicans support suspending immigration from terror-prone regions, compared to 56 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats. In nearly a mirror-image split, 88 percent of Democrats think illegal immigrants living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, compared to 58 percent of independents and 37 percent of Republicans.

State voters split three ways on veracity of Trump’s voting fraud claim

Tennessee voters divide into nearly equal thirds when asked whether Donald Trump, who won the electoral vote and presidency in the 2016 election, was right or wrong when he “said he would have won the popular vote as well had the results not included millions of illegal votes.”

About 28 percent say President Trump was right, 37 percent say he was wrong, and 34 percent aren’t sure. The rest give no answer. Fully 80 percent of Democrats say he was wrong. Republicans divide about evenly between the 48 percent who say he was right and the 42 percent who say they don’t know whether he was right or wrong, but a significantly smaller 10 percent say he was wrong. Among independents, 43 percent say he was wrong, and a significantly smaller 24 percent say he was right. In between, and statistically indistinguishable from either group, 32 percent are unsure.

President Trump has repeated the claim a number of times without providing evidence of its veracity. The claim has been questioned by journalists, fact checkers and the bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State, a group that represents state election officials. Despite their ambivalence about the president’s claim, Tennessee voters appear confident that votes in Tennessee were counted correctly. Seventy (70) percent have “a lot” of confidence that “votes for president in the state of Tennessee were counted properly this past November.” Another 13 percent have “some” confidence, 6 percent have “not much” confidence, and 4 percent have “none at all.” The rest aren’t sure or give no answer.

Other findings on handguns, abortion, and school issues

Asked, “Generally, what do you think the law should say about people carrying a handgun with them in public?”:

  • 12 percent say the law should “prohibit people from carrying a handgun.”
  • 51 percent say the law should “require a permit to carry a handgun.”
  • 23 percent say the law should “require a permit to carry a handgun if the handgun is concealed from view but not if the handgun is carried in plain sight.”
  • 9 percent say the law should “allow people to carry a handgun without a permit, whether concealed or in plain sight.”

Asked, “Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?”:

  • 11 percent choose “legal in all cases”
  • 25 percent choose “legal in most cases”
  • 30 percent choose “illegal in most cases”
  • 26 percent choose “illegal in all cases”
  • The rest say they don’t know or decline to answer

Asked, “What would be most likely to reduce the number of abortions performed: stricter abortion regulations, more access to birth control and sex education, both, or neither?”:

  • 13 percent say “stricter abortion regulations”
  • 31 percent say “more access to birth control and sex education:
  • 37 percent say “both”
  • 12 percent say “neither”
  • The rest say they don’t know or give no answer

Asked, “Some say requiring seat belts on school buses would keep children safer. Others say there are cheaper, easier ways to improve school bus safety. Do you think Tennessee should require seat belts on all school buses, or not?”:

  • 67 percent want seat belts required on all school buses
  • 22 percent don’t want seat belts required on all school buses
  • The rest don’t know or decline to answer

Asked, “Would you favor or oppose providing most families in Tennessee with tax-funded school vouchers that they could use to help pay for sending their children to private or religious schools if they wanted to?”:

  • 41 percent are in favor
  • 45 percent are opposed
  • The rest don’t know or decline to answer

Asked, as a follow-up, “What about if school vouchers were provided only to poor families whose children are attending low-achieving Tennessee schools?”:

  • 38 percent are in favor
  • 48 percent are opposed
  • The rest don’t know or decline to answer

Asked, “Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in testing in the public schools to measure academic achievement. Just your impression or what you may have heard or read, has increased testing helped, hurt, or made no difference in the performance of the local public schools?”

  • 17 percent choose “helped”
  • 33 percent choose “hurt”
  • 37 percent choose “made no difference”
  • The rest don’t know or give no answer
Methodology

Between Feb. 12-16, 2017, Issues & Answers Network Inc. completed 600 telephone surveys for the poll among a random sample of registered Tennessee voters aged 18 and over. Data were collected using a Tennessee statewide voter registration sample with 60 percent landlines and 40 percent cell phones. The average interview length was 13 minutes.

Quotas by gender and Grand Region were implemented. Data were weighted based on respondent age to ensure the data are representative of Tennessee registered voters. Landline numbers represent 58 percent of the completed interviews and 42 percent are from cell phones.

The survey’s margin of error is 4 percentage points, meaning one can be 95 percent confident that the population percentage being estimated lies within four percentage points, in either direction, of the result the sample produced.

For more about the MTSU Poll and to see previous poll results, go to mtsupoll.org.


MTSU Spring Poll: Voters weigh in on Trump, state leaders, gas tax

Feb. 22, 2017

Tennessee’s 11 Electoral College votes were an easy win for President Donald Trump in the November 2016 presidential election, with 61 percent of the popular vote in the state. Now though, only a narrow majority of the state’s voters say they approve of the job he has done as president since taking office in January, according to the latest statewide poll from Middle Tennessee State University.

Trump’s Tennessee “hangover” similar to Obama’s Tennessee “honeymoon”

The latest MTSU Poll of 600 registered voters was conducted Feb. 12-16 with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?” the poll found that:

  • 51 percent approve
  • 32 percent disapprove
  • 17 percent don’t know or don’t answer

For comparison, when the spring 2009 MTSU Poll was conducted shortly after Barack Obama took office, it asked whether respondents approved of the job he was doing as president and found that:

  • 53 percent approved
  • 27 percent disapproved
  • 20 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer

Those were Obama’s best job approval ratings in Tennessee during his presidency. In most of the polls that followed, around 35 percent of Tennesseans said they approved of the job Obama was doing. Similarly, when asked to look back on Obama’s presidency as a whole in the latest MTSU Poll, only 39 percent said they approve, and 56 percent said they disapprove.

Obama lost the state of Tennessee with only 42 percent of the vote in 2008. Trump won the state with 61 percent of the vote in 2016.

Dr. Jason Reineke

Dr. Jason Reineke

“New presidents often enjoy a so-called honeymoon shortly after winning their first election, when unifying inaugural addresses and a public that hopes for the best contribute to even greater support and job approval than their winning vote totals,” said Jason Reineke, Ph.D., associate director of the poll. “But that doesn’t appear to be the case for Trump.”

“The numbers are very similar, but they represent more of a hangover for Trump, whose job approval at the outset of his presidency is actually worse than his winning vote total in the state,” Reineke said.

Accounting for a surprising win

The fall 2016 MTSU Poll, conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2 of that year, found that 48 percent of all Tennessee voters and 54 percent of decided voters in the state chose Trump at that time. Trump went on to win the election with 61 percent of the vote in Tennessee.

The accuracy of polling about Trump has been in question since his surprise, national Electoral College win. To address this and determine whether Trump supporters were fairly represented in the sample, the spring 2017 MTSU poll asked respondents whom they had voted for in the 2016 presidential election.

Of poll respondents who answered the question and said that they had voted in the presidential race, 60 percent reported voting for Trump, just one percentage point different from the proportion of voters who chose him in the state on Election Day.

Poll respondents who said they had voted in the presidential election were also asked when they had decided on the candidate they chose. According to the results:MTSU Poll combo logo-NEW WEB

  • 52 percent decided before the party conventions
  • 31 percent decided between the beginning of the conventions and the end of the debates
  • 14 percent decided after the debates
  • 3 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer

Of those who said they made up their minds after the debates, 58 percent reported voting for Trump, while only 18 percent said they voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Although Trump had Tennessee wrapped up for some time, it appears that his ability to maintain his gains late in the race helped to increase his margin of victory in the state,” said Reineke.

For more about the MTSU Poll and to see previous poll results, go to mtsupoll.org.

Methodology

Between Feb. 12-16, 2017, Issues & Answers Network Inc. completed 600 telephone surveys for the poll among a random sample of registered Tennessee voters aged 18 and over. Data were collected using a Tennessee statewide voter registration sample with 60 percent landlines and 40 percent cell phones. The average interview length was 13 minutes.

Quotas by gender and Grand Region were implemented. Data were weighted based on respondent age to ensure the data are representative of Tennessee registered voters. Landline numbers represent 58 percent of the completed interviews and 42 percent are from cell phones.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points, meaning one can be 95 percent confident that the population percentage being estimated lies within four percentage points, in either direction, of the result the sample produced.


MTSU Poll: Support mixed for gas tax hike, but many don’t know much about it

Feb. 22, 2017

About a third of Tennessee voters support Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to fund road projects through a plan that would increase fuel taxes while cutting grocery and other taxes, but fewer oppose it, and many remain undecided, according to the latest MTSU Poll.

“Support for the plan is fairly low among voters, but that’s not the whole story,” said Ken Blake, Ph.D., director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “In a pattern reminiscent of attitudes toward the governor’s ‘Insure Tennessee’ plan two years ago, opposition is fairly low as well, many have read or heard little about the issue and simply have no opinion yet, and support for the plan rises markedly among those who have the most information about it.”

Dr. Ken Blake

Dr. Ken Blake

The latest MTSU Poll of 600 registered voters was conducted Feb. 12-16 with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In other findings, 57 percent approve of Haslam’s job performance, 50 percent approve of the job the Tennessee General Assembly is doing, and about half of state voters want another Republican to succeed Haslam. By comparison, more like a quarter would prefer a Democratic governor.

Support mixed for gas tax increase

When the current poll asked state voters about the governor’s “proposal to pay for road projects by raising taxes on gas and diesel fuel while cutting other taxes, including taxes on groceries”:

  • 38 percent expressed support.
  • 28 percent were opposed, a significantly smaller proportion.
  • 33 percent said they weren’t sure.
  • The remaining 1 percent declined to answer.

Support appeared significantly higher among the 52 percent of state voters who had read or heard “a lot” or “some” information about the proposal than among the 46 percent who had read or heard “only a little” or “nothing at all” about it.

Among those who had read or heard “a lot” or “some” about the proposal:

  • 51 percent expressed support.
  • 31 percent said they opposed it.
  • 18 percent said they didn’t know how they felt about it.

By contrast, among those who had read or heard “only a little” or “nothing at all about the proposal:

  • 24 percent expressed support.
  • 24 percent said they opposed it.
  • 52 percent said they didn’t know how the felt about it.

Asking about the governor’s “Insure Tennessee” health care proposal two years ago, the MTSU Poll found that support measured 34 percent statewide but rose to 49 percent among the third of Tennesseans who had heard about the plan. By contrast, support measured only 26 percent among the two-thirds who had little or no information about the plan. Ultimately, the plan failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

Haslam approval holding at solid majority; Legislature at 50 percent
Gov. Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam

Fifty-seven percent of Tennessee voters approve “of the way Bill Haslam is handling his job as governor,” a figure virtually unchanged from his 58 percent approval ratings in the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 editions of the MTSU Poll. Twenty-three percent express disapproval of the governor, and 19 percent don’t know.

Approval of Haslam measures 64 percent among Republicans, 60 percent among independents, and 46 percent among Democrats.

“MTSU Polls conducted during the administration of Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Phil Bredesen, also tended to find relatively high bipartisan approval,” Blake said.

Meanwhile, 50 percent approve of “the way the state Legislature is handing its job,” while 27 percent disapprove, and 22 percent don’t know. The remaining 1 percent declined to answer. Approval of the Legislature is about the same as it was throughout 2016.

Undated photo of the Tennessee General Assembly convening at the Capitol in Nashville.

Undated photo of the Tennessee General Assembly convening at the Capitol in Nashville.

About half of state voters want a Republican as their next governor

Fifty-one percent of state voters prefer that the governor elected next year to replace Haslam, who is in his second and final term, be either a “conservative Republican” (33 percent) or a “moderate Republican” (18 percent).

Approximately a quarter (23 percent) would like either a “moderate Democrat” (14 percent) or a “progressive Democrat” (9 percent). Ten percent prefer “something else,” and a sizable 14 percent don’t know. The rest refused to answer.

“A Republican candidate would enter the race with a pretty stiff tail wind,” Blake said. “But recent history suggests a moderate from either party can build and maintain a winning coalition.”

For more about the MTSU Poll and to see previous poll results, go to mtsupoll.org.


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