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NC voters want the federal government to do more to help the poor, survey finds

Terry Soffer, left, and Sue DuChanois show their support to the speakers opposing repeal of Obamacare in a January "Save Our Health Care" rally at Marshall Park, featuring health care experts and patients who oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Terry Soffer, left, and Sue DuChanois show their support to the speakers opposing repeal of Obamacare in a January "Save Our Health Care" rally at Marshall Park, featuring health care experts and patients who oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Despite the political divisions over aid to the poor, most North Carolina voters say they support federal efforts to help reduce poverty, according to a study released Thursday.

The study, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, surveyed registered voters in eight states, including North Carolina.

Both Democrats and Republicans surveyed supported the federal government playing an active role in addressing poverty.

The topics surveyed included child poverty, federal minimum wage, nutrition programs, Medicaid, job creation and others.

Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation and primary investigator on the study, said most of the positions surveyed showed at least moderate Republican support.

“What’s striking is the mix of bipartisan positions that are not the kinds of things you see in Congress,” he said.

Voice of the People, a nonpartisan group that released the study, said the methodology was different from other studies in that it provided those surveyed arguments on both sides on each topic.

Among the findings for North Carolina:

▪ A majority favored raising the definition of the poverty line to include more people.

▪ Over three-fourths supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9. An increase gained support from a majority of both political parties.

▪ Early childhood education was particularly popular, with 73 percent of those surveyed favoring expansion.

▪ On Medicaid, 66 percent of North Carolinians favored its expansion.

North Carolina is one of 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced in January he was planning to expand Medicaid coverage in the state, but his effort was blocked and a lawsuit was filed by legislative leaders in the General Assembly.

Kull said North Carolina’s results were very similar to the national sample.

“What’s quite remarkable is how similar the states were,” he said. “And the states that are traditionally on the red end of the spectrum versus on the blue end of the spectrum were not very different.”

Caroline Metzler: 704-231-5316, @crmetzler

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