Political Differences Apparent in Environment, Health Care
Public Sector Consultants, Inc. (PSC) and Denno Research conducted a statewide poll with 600 likely voters between July 9 – July 11, 2014, with an overall margin for error of +/-4%. The poll covered a range of current topics relevant to Michigan, including transportation funding, the Detroit bankruptcy, education, the environment and health care reform. Because this is a poll of likely voters, respondents were asked whether they were Democrat, Republican or Independent . Some of the largest disparities of opinion by political party were found on issues related to the environment and the Affordable Care Act (generally referred to as ObamaCare).
Respondents were asked if ObamaCare had been mostly positive, mostly negative, or neutral for their family. Overall, statistically equal proportions rated it as “mostly negative” (42%) or “neutral” (39%), with 17% saying it was “mostly positive.” There were clear political and racial differences about this issue :
- Only 1% of Republicans were “mostly positive” of ObamaCare compared to 38% of Democrats
- At the same time, 70% of Republicans were “mostly negative” compared to 13% of Democrats
- Nearly half (46%) of Independents were “mostly negative”
- About half (41%) of African Americans were “mostly positive” compared to 14% of Whites
PSC’s President, Peter Pratt, notes “that for a major reform, such as the Affordable Care Act, to have nearly equal proportions neutral as they are negative tells me that the jury is still out.” Pratt explains, “Weigh a disastrous rollout, terrible optics with the ‘keep your coverage if you like it’ maelstrom, and the flurry of campaign ads assailing the program—it’s not surprising that a large number of voters really, really, do not like the act. On the other hand, enrollment in the health insurance exchange and Medicaid has exceeded expectations at this point, suggesting that ObamaCare is serving many people just as designed—which is clearly the experience of an equal number of voters.”
In addition to the contentious subject of ObamaCare, the poll asked two questions about an equally debated topic: the environment. The first question had to do with energy policy, and more specifically, if, how and when to phase out the use of coal. In general, Michigan voters feel that the state’s mix of sources of electricity should change, but there are political differences as to how and when:.
- Nearly half (42%) said that “Michigan should dramatically reduce its use of coal over the next 25 years as technology improves and costs decrease for other sources of electricity.”
- About one-quarter (28%) feel that “Michigan should continue to use coal until other energy sources are at least as cheap (or cheaper) than coal.”
- 54% of Democrats and 40% of Independents opt for phasing out coal over 25 years, while 40% of Republicans want to use coal until a more affordable option is available.
Without being told the national average for recycling (which is about 35%), half (53%) of respondents accurately said that Michigan’s 15% recycling rate was below the national average. Republicans tended to have rosier conceptions of Michigan’s recycling rate, with nearly half (46%) saying they thought Michigan recycled above the national average compared to 21% of Democrats.
Finally, if you have been out to enjoy all five of Michigan’s Great Lakes in the past five years, you are among just 14% of Michigan voters to do so. About as many respondents had not been to any Great Lake (21%) as had been to one (21%) or two (19%).
This was one area of Michigan’s environment where Republicans and Democrats were pretty similar – maybe we can hammer out energy policy around a bonfire on Lake Michigan with a bottle of Michigan wine?
Public Sector Consultants is Michigan’s most respected, connected, and dedicated research and program management firm, with specialties in governance and regulation, health care, education, energy, and environmental policy. PSC is committed to providing objective research and sound solutions to the public and private sector.
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