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Survey shows Virginia voters are split on Medicaid expansion

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Registered Virginia voters are split on Medicaid expansion (46% oppose, 42% favor), but 61 percent oppose potential unilateral action by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to expand the program, according to a Roanoke College Poll. The poll interviewed 566 registered voters in Virginia between July 14 and July 19 and has a margin of error of + or - 4.2 percent.

A majority of those polled said McAuliffe should work with the General Assembly to try to expand Medicaid rather than take action on his own. Even 28 percent of those who favor expansion said that McAuliffe should not act alone.

Political independents are opposed to both expansion (46 percent – 37 percent) and to unilateral action (64 percent - 21 percent). While self-described moderates favor Medicaid expansion (52 percent to 35 percent), they are opposed to unilateral action by McAuliffe (55 percent to 31 percent).

On another issue, a majority of respondents (54 percent) think that former Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose trial begins next week, did something wrong in his interactions with Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific compared to 20 percent, who think he did nothing wrong.

Opinion regarding the resignation of former state Sen. Phillip Puckett (D-Russell) is split (23 percent think he did nothing wrong, 21 percent think he did something wrong), but a majority was unsure or did not know enough to have an opinion. There is a strong consensus, however, that their actions are typical of elected officials (76 percent) rather than uncommon events (11 percent).

The survey showed that these events tend to be viewed through partisan lenses. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Democrats think McDonnell did something wrong, compared to 56 percent of independents, but 38 percent of Republicans also thought he did something wrong (31 percent of Republicans said he did nothing wrong).

Regarding Puckett's resignation, Democrats (31 percent) again were most likely to say he did something wrong, followed by Independents (24 percent) and Republicans (24 percent). There were virtually no partisan differences in seeing these events as typical elected official behavior.

"It seems that opinion is turning against McDonnell, although there may be a distinction between thinking he did something wrong and thinking he did something criminal," Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College, said in a statement. "This poll was focused on the ethics rather than the legality."

The nonpartisan institute operates a computer-assisted-telephone-interview call center on the Roanoke college campus. In addition to telephone polls, IPOR conducts mail, internet and personal interview surveys.


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