Vandy poll shows support for state-run exchange - WSMV Channel 4

Vandy poll shows support for state-run exchange

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

In less than a month, state lawmakers will return to the Capitol and a new poll shows some surprising numbers about some of the state's most polarizing issues.

Vanderbilt University conducted a poll of more than 829 registered voters over the course of the past two weeks.

What they found is that the Legislature's popularity has increased, but voters would prefer they focus more on the economy and less on social issues.

The Vanderbilt Poll revealed Tennessee voters gave high marks to Gov. Bill Haslam, who enjoys a 68 percent approval rating.

The state Legislature gets lower marks with only a 52 percent approval rating.

"It's fair to say Tennesseans are conservative as a whole, but they are much more purple than they are deep red," said John Geer, Vanderbilt professor of public policy and education, and co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll.

President Barack Obama doesn't get very high marks with a 45 percent approval rating.

As for the legislature, next year's Republican super-majority will be taking up big issues dealing with education, guns and healthcare.

The charter school debate has become a hot issue, especially in Nashville with the controversy over Great Hearts Academy.

An overwhelming number of voters, 65 percent, would like to see an expansion of charter schools in Tennessee.

As for the highly controversial issue of forcing employers to allow their employees to leave their guns in workplace parking lots, 53 percent support it.

"We want to make sure we protect all of our constitutional rights, not just the bearing of arms, but also the right to private property and the control of private property," said House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

However, only 19 percent of voters believe the Legislature should tell private entities what their nondiscrimination policies should include.

It's an issue that could come up next year as lawmakers take aim at Vanderbilt's "All-Comers" policy, which requires all student organizations to follow the university's nondiscrimination rules.

The poll also found that the majority of Tennesseans believe that public school teachers aren't paid enough and they favor a system where the voters, not the governor, chooses judges.

Just two days after the governor announced he would let the federal government set up a health exchange for Tennessee, a new poll shows that most Tennesseans didn't want that.

Vanderbilt's poll also showed how Tennessee voters feel about Obamacare and the fiscal cliff.

But today's Vanderbilt Poll shows a recent decision by Haslam isn't as popular as he is.

According to the poll, 53 percent of voters believed the state should have run its own online marketplace to buy health insurance while 33 percent believed the federal government should do it.

Among Republicans, that number is even higher with 73 percent favoring a state-run exchange.

"The bottom line is this isn't a popularity contest," said Harwell. "This is about doing what is best for the state of Tennessee."

The governor has yet to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover more people, and voters only favor that by a 1 percent margin.

As for dealing with the fiscal cliff, 60 percent want to reduce tax deductions to deal with the deficit, although 57 percent are willing to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Only 35 percent of voters are willing to raise the eligibility age for Medicare to fix the deficit.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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