News: Quick Takes

Civitas Poll: N.C. divided over Medicaid expansion, watch Cooper-Trump voters

Former N.C. Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse appeared Aug. 14 at a Civitas Poll luncheon. (CJ photo by Brooke Conrad)
Former N.C. Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse appeared Aug. 14 at a Civitas Poll luncheon. (CJ photo by Brooke Conrad)

As Medicaid expansion continues to hold Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly in gridlock, a growing number of North Carolinians say they’d oppose expanding the health-insurance entitlement.

A new Civitas Poll shows 57% of North Carolina voters favor Medicaid expansion. That’s down from 62% in February.

The result is one of several North Carolina election-related questions Civitas released Wednesday, Aug. 14. They suggest Republican President Trump has an edge over four of the top Democratic presidential contenders in the 2020 campaign. They also show a significant number of voters would support both Trump and Democrat Cooper next year, and that the majority of respondents favor private health insurance, while a growing number oppose socialism.

“You take all this polling, and we are not drastically headed, as of today, I don’t think, for a very different election than we had in 2016,” said Dallas Woodhouse, who served as North Carolina Republican Party executive director until earlier this year and spoke Wednesday at a Civitas Institute presentation.

The poll of 500 likely North Carolina voters showed Trump would eke out a narrow victory over four Democratic hopefuls: former Vice President Joe Biden 45-44%; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 46-44%; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren 46-43%; and California Sen. Kamala Harris 47-41%. 

Democrats are also about twice as likely to vote for Trump’s re-election than Republicans are to vote for any of the four Democrats, the poll showed.

Meantime, a considerable number of Trump voters in North Carolina between 8.5% and 12.5% indicated they’d also vote for Cooper.

“Watch the Cooper-Trump voters,” said Donald Bryson, president and chief executive officer of Civitas. “That is a significant portion of the electorate.”

In a general question about Medicaid expansion, 57% of North Carolinians favored it while 27% opposed it. When the survey added extra information about the impacts of Medicaid expansion, favorability plummeted.

When poll respondents were told Medicaid expansion could cost $340 million a year and that the majority of recipients would be healthy, working-age adults with no children, 50% and 47% of respondents respectively said they’d be less likely to support it.

“Are you for ice cream, free beer, and a three-day work week? Yeah.” Woodhouse said. “But what does it cost you?”

Woodhouse also noted that people generally don’t know the difference between Medicare, which is health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which is targeted at low-income and disabled individuals ages 19-64.

Another question showed North Carolinians largely favor private insurance over other coverage alternatives. If given a choice and price were not an issue, 53% would pick coverage from private insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, 22% would choose Medicare, 8% Medicaid, 9% other options, and 9% were unsure. 

Support of socialism is also on the decline. In the most recent poll, 55% said they strongly oppose it, compared with 60% in a February poll. 

Woodhouse noted that North Carolina tends to mirror national election trends. Like voters nationwide, Democrats and Republicans in North Carolina tend to split along urban and rural lines. 

“North Carolina is a huge microcosm of the whole country,” he said. 

The poll, conducted Aug. 1-4 by Harper Polling, used live callers and surveyed likely voters reached by landlines and mobile phones. The margin of error was plus-or-minus 4.38%.