Poll Shows Voters Much More Likely to Vote for Candidates Who Support Medical Aid in Dying

February 23, 2022

Poll Shows Strong Support for Peaceful Dying Option in All 6 Regions, All Demographic Groups

Compassion & Choices today released the first known national poll measuring how likely voters in all six regions of the country are to vote for state legislative candidates who support medical aid-in-dying bills and whether voters personally want this end-of-life care option for themselves. Gallup conducts an annual survey on end-of-life care options but does not measure these two metrics. The new poll also shows strong support for this end-of-life care option in all six regions.

The poll is timely because medical aid-in-dying bills have been introduced in 11 states so far during the 2021-2022 legislative session: ArizonaConnecticutDelawareIndianaKentuckyMassachusettsMinnesotaNew YorkRhode IslandUtah, and Virginia. Three other states, Hawai’iVermont and Washington, are considering legislation to improve access to medical aid in dying

The telephone survey of 951 likely voters was conducted Nov. 2-10, 2021 by the Susquehanna Polling & Research, a respected survey firm that received a B+ rating from FiveThirtyEight based on the historical accuracy of its polls, along with its methodology, the same B+ rating that Gallup received.

The poll shows voters nationwide are 8 times “more likely” (51%) than “less likely (6%) to vote for a candidate for the state legislature if they sponsor or support” medical aid-in-dying legislation. The rest of the voters surveyed said a state legislative candidate’s position on the issue had “no impact” (29%) on their voting preference, were “not sure” (8%), or opted to “decline to answer the question” (6%).

‘These poll results decisively demonstrate the growing intensity of support for medical aid in dying. Voters don’t just support the option for somebody else: they want the option for themselves,” said Kim Callinan, president/CEO of Compassion & Choices. “Furthermore, contrary to conventional wisdom, this is not a politically difficult vote: voters are 8 times more likely to support a candidate who sponsors or supports medical aid-in-dying legislation. The COVID pandemic is creating increased awareness that death is inevitable; current policies are lacking, and autonomy and compassion at life’s end are paramount on voters’ minds.”

The ratio of voters “more likely” vs. “less likely” in the nation’s six regions to vote for a state legislative candidate if they sponsor or support” medical aid-in-dying legislation ranged from more than 5 to 1 in Northeast states (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) to nearly 15-1 in North Central states (CO, ID, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, WY, KS, MN, IA, MO). The percentages for each region are listed on page 26 of the survey crosstabs posted here.

The survey shows two out of three voters (67%) nationwide said if they “had an incurable, terminal illness, still had a sound mind, had less than six months to live, and…met the legal requirements,” they “would want the option of medical aid in dying,” with majority support of 61% or more in all six regions.

Currently, Washington, D.C. and 10 states allow medical aid in dying: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

“I’ve polled many issues over the last two decades, but it’s rare to find one with this widespread appeal across the geographic, political and religious spectrum,” said Jim Lee, president, CEO and Founder of Susquehanna Polling & Research, who previously was a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry. “In this age of heightened partisanship, to see such consensus on such a personal issue like this just blew me away. ”

The poll results include:

  1. Do you think a mentally sound adult with an incurable, terminal illness, who only has six months or less to live, should have the legal option of medical aid in dying to get prescription medication they may take to pass peacefully in their sleep?
  • Yes   650 68%
  • No   207 22%
  • Not Sure  52 5%
  • Decline to answer 39 4%
  1. If you had an incurable, terminal illness, still had a sound mind, had less than six months to live, and you met the legal requirements, would you want the option of medical aid in dying?
  • Yes   633 67%
  • No   205 22%
  • Not Sure  55 6%
  • Decline to answer 55 6%
    • Support level by region
      • Midwest voters (IL, IN, KY, MI, OH, WV, WI): 61%
      • Western voters (AK, CA, HI, NV, UT, WA): 62%
      • Northeast voters (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT): 66%
      • Southern voters (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA): 66%
      • North Central voters (CO, ID, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, WY, KS, MN, IA, MO): 69%
      • Southwest voters (AZ, NM, OK, TX, AR, LA): 79%
    • Support level by party affiliation
      • Self-identified Independents/Others: 63%
      • Self-identified Republicans: 68%
      • Self-identified Democrats: 70%
    • Support level by race
      • African American voters: 62%
      • White voters: 67%
      • Hispanic/Latino voters: 70%
      • All other ethnicities: 65%
    • Support level by religion
      • Catholic voters: 66%
      • Protestant voters: 66%
      • Jewish voters: 83%
      • All other voters: 69%
  1. Ten of the fifty states and Washington, D.C. currently have the option of medical aid in dying. Do you think your state should have this option?
  • Yes   656 69%
  • No   188 20%
  • Not Sure  63 7%
  • Decline to answer 41 4%
  1. Are you more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for the State Legislature if they sponsor or support legislation to allow a mentally sound adult with an incurable, terminal illness to have the option of medical aid in dying?
  • More Likely  482 51%
  • Less Likely  59 6%
  • No Impact   274 29%
  • Not Sure   80 8%
  • Decline to answer 56 6%

A graphic summarizing the poll results is available at: https://compassionandchoices.org/resource/polling-medical-aid-dying/

The poll topline results are posted at: https://compassionandchoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/toplines-compassionandchoices-spr-usa-nov-2022-final-1.pdf

The poll crosstabs are posted at: https://compassionandchoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/usa-omnibus-cross-tabulation-report-final-november-2021-2.pdf

Compassion & Choices
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Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
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