HPU/N&R Poll: Health Reform and Private School Funding Not Favorable

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 25, 2015 – The High Point University/News and Record Poll finds that North Carolinians continue to have somewhat negative views of the 2010 health reform law known as the Affordable Care Act and do not support use of tax dollars to pay for children to attend private schools despite negative views on the direction of North Carolina education.

The first HPU Poll of the fall found that 49 percent of North Carolinians do not favor the 2010 health reform law, while 39 percent favor the law.

North Carolina residents were divided on the future impact of the health reform law. When asked if the nation as a whole will be worse off or better off under the health reform law in the future, the greater proportion (36 percent) believe the nation as a whole will be worse off with 29 percent saying that the law would make things better and 26 percent saying that it would not make much difference either way. In a February 2014 HPU Poll, 53 percent of North Carolinians believed the Affordable Care Act would make health care worse in N.C.

Despite these mixed feelings about the law, 51 percent say that given the opportunity to expand Medicaid programs under the law, the state of N.C. should do so.

In terms of education, when asked to give N.C. public schools a grade on the standard A to F scale, the largest proportion of respondents (36 percent) gave the quality of public schools a grade of C while 62 percent believe the public school system is headed in the wrong direction. This is similar to a previous HPU Poll in February 2014 that found 40 percent of North Carolinians gave the quality of public schools a C and 60 percent believed the public school system was headed in the wrong direction.

Although North Carolinians do not have much confidence in the current state of the public schools, many of them are hesitant to increase public support to private schools. More than half (63 percent) of North Carolinians oppose tax dollars being used for children to attend private schools. Forty-six percent support a state constitutional amendment to restrict spending and taxing by state government while 41 percent oppose it.

“In this poll, we have further evidence that North Carolinians’ are not changing their views one way or the other on the 2010 health reform law, and a majority still have reservations about policies that would use more public dollars to support private schools,” says Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science and director of the HPU Poll. “Other items in this poll look more closely at candidates for the election in 2016, and these findings suggest two important aspects of the electoral climate candidates will face next year.”

All adults – Health Reform Law Favorability (September 2015)

Given what you know about the health reform law, do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of it?

Favorable – 39 percent

Unfavorable – 49 percent

Don’t know/refused – 12 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Health Reform Law Better or Worse Off (September 2015)

Do you think the nation as a whole will be better off or worse off under the health reform law, or don’t you think it will make much difference?

Better – 29 percent

Worse – 36 percent

Not make much difference – 26 percent

Don’t know/refused – 9 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Expanding Medicaid Programs (September 2015)

The health care law is called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Should the state expand its Medicaid programs as allowed under the law?

Expand – 51 percent

Leave it alone – 38 percent

Don’t know/refused – 11 percen

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Quality of Public Schools (September 2015)

Using a grade of A, B, C, D and F — where A is excellent and F is very poor — how would you grade North Carolina on the quality of its public schools?

A – 5 percent

B – 17 percent

C – 36 percent

D – 23 percent

F – 13 percent

Don’t know/refused – 6 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Direction of Public Schools (September 2015)

In which direction would you say that public education in North Carolina is headed? Would you say the right direction or wrong direction?

Right direction – 29 percent

Wrong direction – 62 percent

Don’t know/refused – 10 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Tax Dollars for Private Schools (September 2015)

Do you support or oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for children to attend private schools, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religious schools?

Support – 30 percent

Oppose – 63 percent

Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

All adults – Spending and Taxing Amendment (September 2015)

Would you support or oppose a state constitutional amendment to restrict spending and taxing by state government in the future?

Support – 46 percent

Oppose – 41 percent

Don’t know/refused – 14 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Sept. 12 – 22, n = 402 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Sept. 12 – 22, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 402 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.9 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data is weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2015/09/40memoB.pdf.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

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