The Sidebar: Poll Finds Strong Support for Medicaid Expansion, Gun Background Checks

Mar 3, 2014

A bipartisan plan to expand Medicaid that is scheduled for a vote in the New Hampshire Senate this week has strong support from Granite Staters, according to a new poll.

New England College asked 774 registered voters if they would support a proposal backed by Gov. Maggie Hassan and a majority in the New Hampshire Senate “to extend private insurance to low-income residents, without passing the cost of coverage on to businesses.”

Two-thirds of respondents – 66 percent – said they support the proposal, while 25 percent said they oppose it; 10 percent were unsure. The poll also showed that 64 percent of respondents support extending Medicaid to families with incomes up to $32,000 per year; 26% of respondents oppose the idea, while 11 percent said they were unsure.

Under the plan, individuals who make less than 138% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $16,000 a year, could get health coverage through Medicaid starting July 1st. Some 40,000-50,000 people would be eligible.

Poll respondents included 29 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans and 41 percent independents. The margin of error is 3.57 percent.

The poll also found strong support for universal background checks for all individual firearm sales. More than three-quarters of respondents -  76 percent - said they support background checks for “gun sales through dealers, shows and private individuals."

A bill that would have required private sellers to conduct sales through licensed firearm dealers who, under federal law, must perform background checks on prospective buyers, failed in the House last month.

“Even though this has been a deeply partisan debate at the State House and even in Washington, the public views this issue differently,” said Wayne Lesperance, director of the Center of Civic Engagement at NEC. “Republicans, Democrats and independents in New Hampshire support background checks for gun purchases.” 

The poll showed that, in a matchup with Andrew Hemingway, a Republican candidate for governor, Hassan, a Democrat, has the support of 42 percent of respondents; Hemingway was favored by 6 percent.

A quarter of respondents said they would prefer a "third option," with 27 percent undecided. 

Respondents were split on which political party should have control of the New Hampshire legislature - 41 percent said Democrats should hold the majority; 40 percent favor Republicans, with 15 percent unsure. 

For more on the poll, including the questions and breakdown of responses, click here