New Insure Tennessee Poll Seriously Flawed


May 14, 2015 3:47PM

In what can only be considered a complete and total embarrassment to legitimate pollsters everywhere, Vanderbilt University released its latest poll showing that 64% of Tennesseans support Insure Tennessee, Gov. Haslam’s proposal to extend Medicaid benefits to upwards of 450,000 people. The Vanderbilt poll has been known for having a checkered past. It was the only poll showing Romney and Obama in a dead heat in Tennessee in 2012, before Romney squeaked by, winning by a mere 20 percentage points.

If you would like to look at the methodology they used, the demographic makeup of the poll, the Democrat/Republican split, and the questions they asked, you are out of luck. That’s because Vanderbilt refused to actually release any of that information publicly, contrary to the practices of pretty much every respected polling outlet in the country. They did, however, give us that information only after our organization requested it, but we are not allowed to release it publicly.

A look at the National Council of Public Polls shows that the Vanderbilt poll doesn’t even meet some of its level one disclosure principles, including complete wording and ordering of questions mentioned in the release.

Thanks to good work by Dave Boucher of the Tennessean, you can actually see the question that was asked on Insure Tennessee. It is below.

Many public officials in Tennessee are considering implementing “Insure Tennessee,” a program proposed by Governor Haslam that would expand health insurance coverage to 280,000 low-income people without health insurance in the state. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, neither support nor oppose, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose expanding health care coverage for low-income people in the state?

This is one of the most poorly worded questions I have ever seen in my years of analyzing polls. The actual question asks if you support expanding health care coverage for low-income Tennesseans? Everyone at the Beacon Center would have answered ‘support’ to that question. In fact here is a quote from our CEO as soon as Insure Tennessee was defeated: “While stopping the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare was a necessary first step, it is still our responsibility as Tennesseans to find affordable healthcare solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

But saying you support expanding health care coverage to low-income Tennesseans is vastly different than saying you support expanding government-run, taxpayer-funded heath insurance to predominantly able-bodied, working age adults.

It is absolutely amazing that such a well-respected and groundbreaking university has such a shoddy and partisan polling operation. But maybe the goal is not to gauge public opinion but rather to shape it.