AP VoteCast: Florida primary marked by coronavirus concerns
March 18, 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in Florida cast their ballots in Tuesday’s Democratic primary during a pandemic that has stunted travel, closed schools, forced millions of workers to stay home and canceled campaign rallies.
Many voters expressed concerns that they or their family members will be infected with the new coronavirus. At the same time, voters ranked health care as the most important issue facing the country, well above climate change, the economy, race relations, foreign policy and many other social issues.
About 4 in 10 said they are very concerned that they or a relative will get the virus, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Florida. Roughly as many were somewhat concerned, while just 2 in 10 expressed little to no concern.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner of the Florida primary.
Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Florida — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 3,412 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
The campaign has featured a contentious debate among candidates over the best way to tackle health care, an issue seen as the most important facing the country by close to half of voters.
There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with about three-quarters of voters saying they are in favor. Roughly a quarter are opposed.
But support for a public option, where every American could buy into a government-run insurance plan if they wanted to, is even higher. Roughly 9 in 10 are in favor.
About two-thirds of voters are in favor of either proposal, while about 2 in 10 say they favor a public option but oppose a single-payer system.
Voters in Florida’s Democratic primary were closely divided over whether they wanted a candidate who would bring fundamental change to Washington or one who would restore the political system to how it was before Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
But a majority of voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.
Among white voters, Biden had an edge over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Black voters went for Biden over Sanders by a significant margin, with about three-quarters supporting the former vice president.
Latino voters also were more likely to support Biden than Sanders.
Sanders, 78, continued to show strength among young voters, especially those under 30. More than half of voters under 30 supported him.
Older voters were more likely to support Biden than Sanders.
A wide majority say they would vote for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders against Trump in the general election. Still, 16% say they would vote for Biden but not for Sanders, while 6% say they would vote for Sanders but not Biden.
Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Just about a third say they are very confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair. Roughly 2 in 10 have little to no confidence, while about 4 in 10 say they are somewhat confident.
Meanwhile, only about 4 in 10 voters are very confident that the Democratic Party’s leadership represents their values; roughly half are somewhat confident. About 1 in 10 are not confident.
Roughly 2 in 10 voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A wide majority — about three-quarters — expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.
About 2 in 10 called the economy the top issue. But a significant majority described the economic system in this country as unfair. That includes about a third who said it’s very unfair.
Small shares of voters considered race relations, immigration, gun policy or abortion most important.