A new poll from Christopher Newport University’s Center for Public Policy shows that a majority of Virginia voters oppose the Democrat-led effort to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth. The state health program isn’t the only thing voters have soured on; Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe’s approval rating now stands at 44 percent, down from a February poll that showed 53 percent of voters were optimistic about his governorship. 

At 53 percent, and by a 12 point margin, Virginians say that they oppose Medicaid expansion. A February survey showed general support for Medicaid expansion, 56 percent to 38 percent. That’s a 15 point drop in support for expansion in two months. 

The February poll dug deeper by asking respondents if they would still support expansion if Virginia had to spend more state money to cover a decreased share of the program paid for by the federal government and only 41 percent said they would. Republicans in the legislature have continued to warn (in unison) that a reliance on the federal government for a 90 percent match for Medicaid funds is unreasonable, given Washington’s debt and spending problem. ​​As the pollsters point out: “Republican skepticism concerning expansion has gotten through to voters.​”

“Democrats are losing the debate on expanding Medicaid in Virginia,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of CNU’s Wason Center for Public Policy. “This is mostly because they are  not convincing Independents that it will work. Voters seem to be moved by Republican  skepticism. Significantly, even in the Democratic-friendly territory of Northern Virginia, support leads opposition by only 2%.”
The ramifications of the Medicaid debate could be staggering if Democrats refuse to pass a clean budget that does not include Medicaid expansion. On July 1, the state government shuts down. Teachers and cops won’t get paid. All state services stop. 78 percent of voters say they would blame Governor McAuliffe if that happened, which makes sense given his promise to shut the government down over Medicaid expansion last year
If there’s anything to be extrapolated from the poll with U.S. Senate ramifications in Virginia, only 28 percent of respondents think the U.S. is headed in the right direction. That’s a tough indicator if you’re a U.S. Senator who was the 60th vote for Obamacare
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