Voters Weigh In On National Issues In MTSU Poll


Tennessee voters dislike Obamacare and want it repealed, but not until they’ve seen details of a replacement plan, the latest MTSU Poll shows.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

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 A follow-up question posed only to voters who said they wanted the law repealed found that 67 percent of these repeal supporters thought lawmakers “should wait to vote on a repeal until the details of a replacement plan have been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 aDecember 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


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.

Please Join Our FREE Newsletter!