The most recent MTSU Poll earlier this year touched on a number of issues that remain in the public eye at the state legislative and federal levels.
All 2015 MTSU Spring Poll results, including interactive graphics and results from questions on school quality, political leadership and presidential hopefuls, can be found at www.mtsupoll.org.
Here's a recap of some of the key findings:
Attitudes toward abortion regulation appear nuanced and strongly tied to religious identity.
The poll found that, among all Tennesseans:
- 57 percent favor requiring a woman's doctor to discuss abortion risks, benefits and alternatives with her before she undergoes an abortion, 27 percent oppose, and 16 percent don't know or refused.
- 48 percent favor requiring a woman to undergo an ultrasound one to three days before obtaining an abortion, 36 percent oppose, and 16 percent don't know or refused.
- 52 percent favor requiring that a woman be offered an opportunity to view the image of an ultrasound she is undergoing prior to an abortion, 31 percent oppose, and 17 percent don't know or declined to answer.
- 35 percent favor requiring that the image of an ultrasound a woman is undergoing prior to an abortion be described aloud if the woman declines to look at it, 48 percent oppose, and 17 percent don't know or refused.
- 42 percent favor requiring that audio of any heartbeat detected during a pre-abortion ultrasound be played aloud for the woman to hear, 43 percent oppose, and 15 percent don't know or declined to answer.
At the time of the poll, two-thirds of Tennesseans hadn't heard much about Gov. Bill Haslam's "Insure Tennessee" health care proposal, but among the third who had, support substantially outweighed opposition.
- 33 percent of Tennesseans had read or heard "a lot" (10 percent) or "some" (23 percent) about "Insure Tennessee," while 66 percent had heard either "a little" (31 percent) or "nothing at all" (36 percent).
- Among the 33 percent with some information, 49 percent favor, 11 percent oppose, and 40 percent weren't unsure or haven't made up their minds.
- Overall, regardless of how much they had read or heard about the measure, 34 percent favored Insure Tennessee, 7 percent opposed, and 59 percent were uncertain.
The poll found that a majority still oppose "allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally," but opposition is softening.
- 55 percent oppose (a drop from 64 percent spring 2014)
- 32 percent favor
- Remainder unsure or declined to answer
Evangelical identity makes the biggest difference. Among evangelicals, 70 percent oppose and 19 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Among non-evangelicals, only 29 percent oppose allowing same-sex marriages, and 55 percent favor allowing them.
TENNESSEE GAS TAX
A majority of Tennesseans opposed raising the state's gas tax to fund better roads and bridges.
- 53 percent oppose
- 26 percent support
- 21 percent undecided
Support is highest among well-informed political moderates and liberals, lower among well-informed conservatives, and lowest among the least informed, regardless of political orientation.
The "Tennessee Promise" community college initiative has strong support.
Gov. Bill Haslam's plan, which makes two-year community colleges and technical schools free for recent high school graduates, has been cited as inspiration for a similar proposal at the federal level. Tennessee's program launches with the high school Class of 2015.
- 79 percent approve
- 12 percent oppose
- 8 percent unsure
- Remainder gave no answer
Politically, support was significantly stronger among Democrats and independents than among the governor's fellow Republicans.
Ninety percent of Democrats favor the program, as do 82 percent of independents. But a significantly lower 70 percent of Republicans expressed support.
Interviews for the Jan. 25-27 poll were conducted by Issues & Answers Network Inc., which completed 600 telephone surveys among a random sample of Tennessee residents aged 18 and over.
The survey's margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.