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Fifth District Voters Offer Opinions on Guns, ACA

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Molly Quinn/Spokesman-Review
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Yesterday (Wednesday) we reported on a poll that showed Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers with a six-point lead over Democrat Lisa Brown in Washington’s Fifth District Congressional race. But there were two other questions important to that race of interest, one related to guns and one to the Affordable Care Act.

Let’s start with the question about guns, read by Seattle pollster Stuart Elway.

“The question was ‘do you favor establishing an age limit of 21 for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles?’"  Elway said. "And 62% of our likely voters said they supported such an age limit, which may be somewhat surprising given the district. There’s a sense, at least nationally, that this issue is shifting a bit largely as a result of the activity of these high school kids out of Florida, mobilizing public opinion.”

Indeed, the school shootings have influenced the opinion of Pat Clark, a Republican from Spokane who supports Cathy McMorris Rodgers and President Trump.

“If somebody wants a gun, they’re going to get a gun from their folks or wherever, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a higher age before they get one so they aren’t in the schools at the time. They might get a little more maturity by the time they have it,” Clark said.

Were her views influenced by some of the school shootings that have happened around the country in the last year or so?

“Yes, I think so because I’m definitely not for gun control," she said.

Jonathan Bingle of Spokane says he hasn’t decided yet about that issue.

“For me, I’m fine with whatever age we decide, whether it be 18 or 21, whatever it is, just as long as it’s consistent,” Bingle said.

Stuart Elway’s second question asked whether people support Congress continuing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.

“And it was split right down the middle," he said. "Forty-seven percent said yes, continue to try to repeal it. Forty-seven percent said no.”

It seems people’s experiences with the ACA are mixed, with some, such as David Thompson of Chattaroy, complaining about higher premiums and deductibles.

“My bookkeeper goes, ‘You paid 18-thousand dollars. You’re still showing another 18-thousand in medical bills. What’s your insurance doing for you.’ I said not much,” Thompson said.

Others, such as Meredith Banka of Spokane, say Obamacare made health care affordable for her family.

“We were able to obtain really great health insurance at a time when we were rebuilding as a family from a financial and career perspective and without that, my kids would have had really horrible, if any, insurance at all," Banka said.

The poll was commissioned by five media organizations, including Spokane Public Radio. The others are the Spokesman-Review, the Lewiston Tribune, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and KHQ-TV.