By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A majority of Alabama Republicans trust the COVID-19 vaccines and are concerned about the delta variant currently spreading across the state, according to a new Alabama Daily News poll.
The poll also showed a strong majority of GOP voters believe all Alabamians should have access to quality health care and close to a majority are open to expanding Medicaid coverage.
Asked how concerned they were about the delta variant of COVID-19, 62% said they were concerned while 36.5% said they were not concerned and 1.5% said they were unsure.
How concerned are you about the Delta variant of COVID-19?
|Not too concerned||20.0%|
|Not at all concerned||16.4%|
|Total not concerned||36.5%|
A full 57.9% said they trust the vaccines while 24.8% said they do not trust them. The survey was conducted August 17-18, before the Food and Drug Administration gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine.
Which of the following best describes your opinion on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines?
|I fully trust the vaccines||27.5%|
|I mostly trust the vaccines||30.4%|
|Total trust vaccines||57.9%|
|I do not trust the vaccines||24.8%|
|I need more information||13.0%|
Many on the right have been outspoken in their opposition to vaccines while conspiracy theories about their negative long term side effects have abounded. Many politicians and pundits have also openly dismissed the severity of COVID-19, including the delta variant. Yet, the survey results show most Alabama Republicans are taking the pandemic seriously and trust the vaccines.
The poll also tested Alabama Republican primary voters’ opinions on health care generally and Medicaid more specifically.
Asked how important it is that all Alabamians have access to quality health care, 78.2% said it was important, including 53.2% saying it is very important.
How important is it to you that all Alabamians have access to quality health care?
Asked about the prospect of expanding state Medicaid coverage with the caveat that it not include a tax increase, 49.2% said they would support it while just 30.1% said they would oppose it.
If it could be done without raising taxes, would you support or oppose expanding Medicaid coverage in Alabama so that low-income, uninsured people could obtain health coverage?
|Neither support of oppose||15.2%|
Medicaid expansion has been a complicated political issue since 2010 following the passage of the Affordable Care Act. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion required by the law and, since then, Alabama is one of 12 states that has chosen not to expand its Medicaid program. Opposition to expansion among Republicans lies mostly on the grounds that it would be unaffordable over the long term despite federal incentives up front, with conservatives stringently opposing raising taxes to pay for it.
Those incentives have not only been renewed, they’ve been enhanced. In March, Alabama Daily News reported that the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act could mean $940 million for the Alabama Medicaid Agency if it expands coverage, more than enough to fund the cost of expansion for at least four years. Still, for many conservatives, the question becomes how to pay for expanded services after that four years and $940 million runs out. During the last legislative session, there was talk of using part of the revenue from gambling legislation as a cash stream for Medicaid, but that bill died late in the session.
The survey, commissioned by Alabama Daily News and conducted by Cygnal, took place August 17-18 among 600 likely Republican primary voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0%. Known registered voters were interviewed via live phone calls, interactive voice response and text message invitation in Cygnal’s multi-mode survey method.