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Poll: Arkansans may support private option, split on gay marriage

story from Talk Business, a TCW content partner

Arkansas voters view the private option insurance plan more favorably than unfavorably, according to a new survey from Talk Business and Hendrix College.

Last year, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, led by Republicans, and Gov. Mike Beebe (D) passed the innovative plan that allowed Arkansas health officials to steer Medicaid expansion funds from the Affordable Care Act into private health insurance plans. The funding for the private option narrowly passed both chambers of the Arkansas General Assembly in 2013 and is expected to come up for renewal funding in February 2014.

In a statewide poll of 520 likely Arkansas voters conducted Jan. 19, 2014, 47.5% said the private option should continue. Roughly 32.5% say the program should end and 20% are undecided.

Q: Last year, the legislature passed a law allowing Arkansas to spend federal Medicaid dollars to provide private insurance to low-income Arkansans through health care exchanges. In the upcoming meeting of the legislature, lawmakers will be asked to continue that program or not. Should the legislature vote to continue this “private option” after this current year?
47.5% Private Option Should Continue
32.5% Private Option Should End
20% Don’t Know

“The spread between those who think the private option should continue versus those who think it should end is considerable,” said Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock. “With votes wavering or apparently peeling off of support in the legislature, these numbers present a different viewpoint from the public’s perception.”

Like at the state capitol, Democrats are fairly unified in their support of the private option, while Republicans have a disjointed view.

Two other questions asked in the poll highlight the conservative bent of Arkansas voters on abortion laws and same-sex marriage.

Q: Do you favor laws that would make it more difficult to get an abortion, favor laws that would make it easier to get an abortion or should no change be made to existing abortion laws?
55% Make It More Difficult
23% Make It Easier
20% No Change
2% Don’t Know

Q: Which of the following policy positions most closely resembles your own view regarding relationships between two people of the same sex?
21.5% Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry
24% Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions or domestic partnerships, but not legally marry
50% There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship
4.5% Don’t know

ANALYSIS
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped construct and analyze the poll. He offered the following observations:
• For this snapshot of the Arkansas political landscape going into what will unquestionably be a consequential political year in the state, we mixed some questions consistently tracked by the University of Arkansas’s Arkansas Poll with those regarding issues that are particularly timely.

• Perhaps the most timely of topics is Arkansans’ views on the “private option,” the distinctive Arkansas program for expanding Medicaid by funding participation of newly Medicaid eligible Arkansans in the health care exchange. That program was appropriated during the 2013 regular session of the General Assembly but will need to be reauthorized in the upcoming fiscal session. A healthy plurality (47.5%) of those surveyed do support extension of the program through reauthorization while just under a third oppose the program’s continuation. Just at one-fifth of respondents responded that they had no opinion or were unclear on their views.

• Looking inside these topline numbers, the most interesting trends were across partisan lines. Democrats and Republicans diverged on the issue—two-thirds of Democrats support the program while a plurality (45%) of Republicans oppose it. Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the division within the GOP leadership on the issues, Republicans were the group most likely to say that they “don’t know” their position. A plurality of independents (44%) support the “private option,” reflecting one of the few times in recent Arkansas public opinion polling where that group looks more like Democrats than Republicans in their attitudes.

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• On the issues of abortion and same-sex partnership recognition, Arkansans show their traditional conservatism. These questions, replicating questions from the Arkansas Poll, are unsurprisingly very much in synch with the results of that annual survey. Just over half of those sampled (55%) voice support for measures that would make it more difficult for women in Arkansas to obtain an abortion. Again, partisan differences do show themselves with just over 80% of Republicans voicing support for making obtaining an abortion more difficult while just under 30% of Democrats share that view. Just over 60% of self-identified Independents favor additional restrictions.

• On the issue of same-sex partnership recognition, just at half of respondents oppose any legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships. Just under half do see a place for legal recognition either as civil unions/domestic partnerships (24%) or civil marriages (21.5%). Survey data across time has show that, while Americans as a whole are shifting views on marriage equality consistently and fairly swiftly, Arkansas is one of a handful of states where attitudes are changing decidedly more slowly.

POLL METHODOLOGY
This survey was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.3%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 520 Arkansas likely voters statewide.

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)

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Comments

What About Abortion?

This article does not address the abortion issue, but I think that it is pretty well known that most Arkansans do not support abortion? But guess what? Steve Womack did. Yes, the recent omnibus provides abortion funding, and Womack voted for the bill! It is time for a TRUE CONSERVATIVE like Thomas Brewer, who is running for Congress in Arkansas' third district!

Democrat spin has enough people believing

very little if any of the problems in DC are their fault. Go check the facts..which TWO parties couldn't agree on funding and which ONE party received most of the blame for it? Now tell us who's circling the White House on her broomstick right now? Good idea to shut the government down again you say? Ha Hahahahahahaha!

Spin

No spin about it. Just facts. Like the fact that the party of saying no can't win an election and can't generate votes to repeal the things they don't like so they held up the entirely separate budget in an attempt to break the things they don't like. Pretty much domestic political terrorism. Kind of like when North Korea wants more aid they rattle the saber and launch a few missiles. The party of no found out that the other side wasn't going to give in to the terrorists and the terrorists lost. Plain as day. Plus if you remember correctly there was enough votes to prevent the shut down, it was just that the hastert rule allowed the minority in that one party to wag the dog until they accidentally killed the dog. It isn't spin when it is factual.

It's a different approach and so far it's working .

Two sides want too much, two sides won't give in, and at the end one side gets the majority of the blame. What you seem to be saying in essence is the House must give the President the majority of whatever he wants or be coined the part of no. All matters relating to taxation come from where? No wait you just said they have to agree or else..Ok then why are they even there anymore? We have become a nation of extremes in case you haven't noticed and sooner or later one party goes too far and we flip the other way. Get ready to see all this again on the other side. There is no Hastert rule..he just did it to shut out the minority party..like Obama's been doing. While you're at it would you like to stop thousands of ridiculous things both party's do or just the one? Hey there's North Korea again and it was 45 years ago today and considering the time zone just about right now when they captured the Pueblo. Right out of international waters..so they say.

Why must you pro-liars always lie?

The new omnibus bill does not provide abortion funding. Taxpayer funds have been restricted from doing so for decades. And it's not "pretty well known" that most Arkansas do not support the right to abortion because that it is not true nor is this poll valid. It's a land line only poll which shows a conservative bias that doesn't exist. The latest valid poll done by the U of A which also polls a percentage of cell phones show that more wanted the same access or easier access to abortion than those wanting it more restricted. Those dealing in reality know that abortion rates are higher in nations where it is illegal. The anti-choice fanatics trying to make it illegal or make it harder to get legally will cause more. Those who pay attention to the things that make the abortion rates go down, which are better sexual health education and availability of contraception, are the ones that are successful in their efforts to have less need for abortion which is the only thing that make the rate go down.
The new omnibus bill does not provide abortion funding. Taxpayer funds have been restricted from doing so for decades. And it's not "pretty well known" that most Arkansas do not support the right to abortion because that it is not true nor is this poll valid. It's a land line only poll which shows a conservative bias that doesn't exist. The latest valid poll done by the U of A which also polls a percentage of cell phones show that more wanted the same access or easier access to abortion than those wanting it more restricted. Those dealing in reality know that abortion rates are higher in nations where it is illegal. The anti-choice fanatics trying to make it ...>> Read the entire comment.