Beacon Center Blasts Reliability of Vanderbilt Polling on Medicaid Expansion

Press release from the Beacon Center of Tennessee, may 14, 2015:

Vanderbilt Poll on Insure Tennessee Seriously Flawed

In what can only be considered an affront to legitimate pollsters everywhere, Vanderbilt University released its latest poll showing that 64% of Tennesseans support Insure Tennessee, Gov. Haslam’s proposal to extend Medicaid benefits to upwards of 450,000 people. The poll is seriously flawed for a number of reasons, including the fact that Vanderbilt refused to release the topline results publicly, contrary to the practices of reputable polling outlets across the country.

A look at the National Council of Public Polls shows that the Vanderbilt poll doesn’t even meet some of its level one disclosure principles, including complete wording and ordering of questions mentioned in the release. Only due to reporting by the Tennessean can the public even know what question was asked relative to support for Medicaid expansion.

Beacon Communications Director Mark Cunningham noted, “This is one of the most poorly worded questions I have ever seen in my years of analyzing polls. It is no surprise that they got the result they did.” The actual question posed was: “Do you strongly support, somewhat support, neither support nor oppose, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose expanding health care coverage for low-income people in the state?”

“Everyone at the Beacon Center would have answered ‘support’ to that question,” Cunningham said, pointing to a quote from Beacon CEO Justin Owen echoing this sentiment when Insure Tennessee was defeated. Cunningham concluded that, “It seems that Vanderbilt is more interested in shaping public opinion than gauging it.”


The Beacon Center of Tennessee empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream. The Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee.