Majority of Whites as Well as African-Americans Support Medicaid Expansion

In Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, Even 47 Percent of Self-Identified Conservatives Support Medicaid Expansion

Washington, D.C.—A poll released today reveals that expanding the Medicaid program as called for in the Affordable Care Act has the solid support—a 62 percent favorable response—of a broad mix of residents in the five southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

The poll, conducted in March and April by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, found that Medicaid expansion is supported by 78 percent of self-proclaimed liberals, 70 percent of politically-moderate respondents, and nearly half, 47 percent, of the respondents who termed themselves conservative.

Analyzing poll respondents by race, the Joint Center found strong support across racial lines, although African-Americans positive responses (85 percent) clearly outweighed that of non-Hispanic whites (53 percent).

While the poll shows that the Affordable Care Act still faces challenges in acceptance, two of the other key provisions of the law intended to expand health coverage—health insurance premium tax credits and the creation of statewide insurance marketplaces—also drew strong support across the South, with a majority of conservatives joining others in voicing approval.

The poll results showed:

  • Respondents in all five states responded favorably (62 percent) to the idea of expanding Medicaid for low-income uninsured adults, as did residents of each individual state—Alabama (64 percent), Georgia (61 percent), Louisiana (63 percent), Mississippi (59 percent) and South Carolina (65 percent).
  • Approximately 85 percent of African-Americans supported the expansion, while about 53 percent of non-Hispanic white residents in the five states favored the expanded coverage. 
  • Both male and female respondents favored the expansion, with women (65.5 percent) stronger in their support than men (58 percent).
  • Support varied less among age groups, although younger respondents, ages 18-24 (66 percent) and 25-44 (64.5 percent), favored Medicaid expansion a bit more than older residents, ages 35-64 (62 percent) and 65 and older (60 percent).
  • Medicaid expansion drew strong support from residents of the five states who described themselves as “liberal” (78 percent) and “moderate” (69 percent), while just under half  of the those calling themselves “conservative” (47 percent) favored the expansion.
  • Party affiliation sharpened the differences in support for Medicaid expansion, with strong support coming from Democrats (87 percent) and Independents (57 percent), but with many fewer supports among Republicans (38 percent).

“The results of this report should paint a clear picture for southern governors that refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion places them out of step with the needs and wishes of their constituents,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA said today.

“These governors need to acknowledge what a growing list of other governors—Democrats and Republicans—have recognized, namely, that the Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win for the people of their states,” Pollack said. “It will reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care; it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state; and it will strengthen the state’s economy.”

“This survey clearly shows that governors and state legislators in the South who are resisting the Medicaid expansion are out-of-step with their constituents,” said Brian D. Smedley, Ph.D., Vice President and Director of the Joint Center’s Health Policy Institute. “A strong majority of respondents in our poll understand that not only will broader Medicaid coverage save lives and end unnecessary suffering, it will also stimulate job growth and the economy in these states. We encourage elected officials to take a good look at the benefits of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions and make decisions based on the evidence.”

The full polling report, “The Deep South and Medicaid Expansion: The View from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina,” is available at

Click here for a Families USA data snapshot which summarizes the key findings of the Joint Center’s polling report. 

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