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Why these Republican voters support, oppose Medicaid expansion

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Why these Republican voters support, oppose Medicaid expansion

A new Mississippi Today/Siena College poll showed wide support for Mississippi expanding to cover the working poor, including 70% support from Republican respondents.

The numbers appear to show a continued shift of voter sentiment in what has long been a partisan battle. Mississippi’s elected Republican governors and other leaders for the last decade have blocked Medicaid expansion via the Affordable Care Act and the billions in federal dollars that would have come with it. This resistance continues even as struggling hospitals and more citizens in the poorest, unhealthiest cry for help.

READ MORE: Poll: 80% of Mississippians favor Medicaid expansion

READ MORE: Frequently asked questions: What is Medicaid expansion, really?

Several poll respondents agreed to talk with Mississippi Today about their support or opposition to expanding the federal-state program to cover people making up to 138% of the poverty level, or the working poor.

Republican voters who support Medicaid expansion

Katherine Bagwell, 79, West Point, small business owner

“Why not expand it, if they’re working and still not making it? Medical bills are ridiculous. It needs to be for working people, unless they are not working because they can’t. Right this minute, I know an 18-year-old who dropped out of school and is not looking for a job, living with his momma. For him, I don’t support anything but him getting off the couch … I consider myself a conservative Republican.

“And I would like to say these need to be American citizens. I’m not in favor of giving everything to illegals coming across … I have a daughter whose husband is having major problems. He’s trying to get on social security disability. She’s working, trying her best … He’s worked all his life, but a major at work started all this. She does not have insurance through work … I think it’s wonderful that there is Medicaid. My daughter’s children had Medicaid when they were younger, or I don’t know what they would have done. Right now I’m paying insurance for them, because she can’t afford it.”

Joy Cevera, 60, Oxford, disability-retired cook

“Yes, I support (Medicaid expansion). I used to be one of the working poor. I watched my son suffer because I couldn’t afford medical care for him. And if you’re working and you have to go through that, there’s a problem. He’s now 35, and I’m still watching him suffer because he’s one of the working poor. There’s got to be something done. If other states can do it, why can’t we? I know we are one of the saddest states, and I know it might mess up (the budget) within the state, but something’s got to be done.

“I pretty much support the Republicans. None of them make any sense, but they make the most sense to me.”

Brad Dickey, 58, Southaven, engineer

“My wife is a nurse … People need to have access to health care. I think we do have a responsibility as a society to help folks, and sometimes the folks you’re helping aren’t your favorite folks, but too bad. The right to live is a basic right and I think we have the responsibility to help people who are less fortunate than we are. They should expand it. We are an unhealthy state.

“Yes, I vote Republican probably 90% of the time. I don’t really fit what the party has become lately — I’d say I’m a Reagan Republican maybe leaning toward a Ford Republican. … I tell my friends who say they don’t want to give money to people who don’t work or can’t afford insurance, ‘Yes, but they have children.’ … They have got to have something, otherwise what they do is go to the emergency room. Going to the emergency room, where they are shorthanded, for a cold. It would be much more affordable care if done another way. It stresses the hospitals, and yes, we end up paying for it anyway … I think Tate Reeves honestly has done about the best job anybody could do through this period … I guess I disagree with my party on this.”

Robbie Raymond, 47, Florence, heavy equipment operator

“Yes. I support it, but in a very specific way. I do believe we need to do more to help the working poor, or the retired. I think that Medicare and Medicaid for our elderly and retired is a horribly broken system … But for the people who are able to work that don’t and think they need assistance, what they need is a job. That’s our big downfall in this whole country, that we don’t do enough to help the people that need help, and do too much for the people who don’t need it … I’ve been fortunate and always had a good job, made good money and had insurance. But there’s lots of people I know that struggle.

“I’m from Florence, and I personally know (Gov. Tate Reeves). I do disagree with Tate Reeves (on Medicaid expansion), but I still talk with him a couple of times a year, and I know that he also shares my viewpoint that we should do more to help our retired and our working poor.”

Cindy Handley, 63, Hattiesburg, teacher

“I think there are people that fall in the cracks and don’t get the support they need because they make $2 too much … The income limits are pretty low in Mississippi to other states, like Colorado. I say that because I have a friend on retirement disability who was able to get assistance in Colorado, but not able to in Mississippi … Yes, I do support (Gov. Tate Reeves). But this is just something I disagree with him on. I’m not really sure why he’s opposed. I’ve not heard him speak on it. I just think there are a lot of people in need.”

Republicans (and an independent) who oppose Medicaid expansion

Joseph Allen, 42, Brandon, small business owner

“I have an LLC. I work for myself. I pay for my own insurance myself, and it’s a lot of money. I think that people that pay into the system more should be held up more. To me it’s like a broken record in America. The more you put in, the more you’re penalized. The yarder you work, the more money they take.

“Not to go off on a diatribe, but when LBJ implemented the welfare system and entitlement, it was not a bad idea to start off with. But then you end up with incentives for people to be failures in life.”

Marcia Johnson, 69, , owner of construction company

“Mostly, I oppose it because of all these young girls out here having all these kids, and I’m having to pay for it. Once is a mistake, but continuously and then Medicaid having to pay for it is not a mistake. Medicaid is supposed to just be for those that something happens to them and they haven’t got any income or insurance. But a lot of Medicaid goes on in the state of Mississippi that shouldn’t, with taxpayers paying for it. There are so many jobs out there. There’s help-wanted signs everywhere. No more expansion. Mississippi should not expand Medicaid any more. If I’ve worked all these years and haven’t been on Medicaid, I don’t believe others should be, either.”

Michelle Dukes, 52, Edwards, homemaker and caregiver, former mental health field worker

“I worked in the mental health field for 15 years, and I often saw people that needed (Medicaid) who couldn’t get it, and people who didn’t need it who got it. Yes. I oppose it, because I saw the abuse of it … The system needs to be fixed before they expand it. I know we need a safety net, but it just seems like it is not properly.

“I would say I’m an independent. I guess I’m right of center, but I don’t like the Republicans and I don’t like the Democrats.”

READ MORE: Mississippi leaving more than $1 billion per year on table by rejecting Medicaid expansion

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Poll: Trump still enjoys strong support from Mississippi Republicans

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Poll: Trump still enjoys strong support from Mississippi Republicans

Mississippi Republican voters are still standing firmly with former , according to a new Mississippi Today/Siena College poll.

When poll respondents were asked which candidate they would vote for if a presidential primary were held today, Trump garnered support from 57% of Mississippi Republicans, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had support from 34%. Just 8% of the Republicans surveyed were undecided.

However, among Mississippi independents, who often vote in Republican primaries, DeSantis carried a plurality of support with 44% over Trump’s 34%. An additional 18% of independents surveyed were undecided, and 5% chose “someone else.”

Editor’s note: Poll methodology and crosstabs can be found at the bottom of this story. Click here to read more about our partnership with Siena College Research Institute.

Graphic: Bethany Atkinson

Even as Trump’s support erodes in several red states, his numbers among Mississippi Republicans remain strong.

Trump enjoys a 78% favorability rating among Mississippi Republicans, according to the poll, with 17% of Republicans finding him unfavorable. Just 4% responded they didn’t know enough to say, and 1% refused to answer the question.

DeSantis has a 61% favorability rating among Mississippi Republicans, with 10% of Republicans finding him unfavorable. A sizable 28% of Mississippi Republicans responded they didn’t know enough to say, and 1% refused.

When factoring in independents and Democrats, though, Trump’s total approval rating dips drastically to 42%, with 53% of voters finding the former president unfavorable. DeSantis’ approval rating also dips when factoring in independents and Democrats: 37% of the finds DeSantis favorable, 27% find him unfavorable, and 33% say they don’t know enough about him to decide.

Graphic: Bethany Atkinson
Graphic: Bethany Atkinson

Democratic , expectedly, does not enjoy high marks among Mississippi voters.

Biden has a 39% approval rating in the state, while 57% of respondents find him unfavorable, according to the poll. A drastic partisan split is factored into the average: 81% of Democrats find Biden favorable, while 16% find him unfavorable; 9% of Republicans find Biden favorable, while 89% of Republicans find him unfavorable; and just 29% of independents find Biden favorable, while 65% find him unfavorable.

Separately, when poll respondents were asked which candidate they think was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, 52% of the state said Biden was the legitimate winner over Trump. Two-thirds (66%) of Mississippi Republicans think Trump won the 2020 election, while just 20% of Republican respondents think Biden did.

A 52% majority of Mississippi’s white respondents — including survey participants of all parties, not just Republicans — said they thought Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Respondents to the poll were also asked: “Thinking about the state of our democracy, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of our country?” Exactly 50% of all respondents said they were pessimistic about the future, including 65% of Republicans, 60% of independents, and 29% of Democrats.

Just 44% of all respondents said they were optimistic about the future, including 30% of Republicans, 32% of independents, and 65% of Democrats.

The Mississippi Today/Siena College Research Institute poll of 821 registered voters was conducted Jan. 8-12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points. Siena has anA rating in FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of pollsters.

Click here for complete methodology and crosstabs relevant to this story.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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