WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans sorted themselves into two separate camps in the presidential election, exposing a clear and enticing partisan divide that separates voters by gender, class, and race.
Despite a once-a-century epidemic and a weak economy, some 76% of US voters said they knew who they would support – and they formed supporters for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. A detailed survey of voters nationwide, according to AP Votecast.
Supporters of the candidates fell into the familiar coalition, with only a few groups showing significant numbers of swing voters. The split reflected a continued polarization that was reflected in part by voters’ strong feelings about the provocative president. About two-thirds of voters said their decision was about Trump – either against or against.
Biden embarked on a large and diverse coalition of young, women, college-educated, urban and black voters that moderated his party’s midterm victory of 2018. 38% of his support came from voters of color.
Meanwhile, Trump incited his huge white and rural supporters to exclude voters in places that had expected his victory four years earlier. Despite having a college degree that held 62% of white voters, Biden expected him to peel off in large numbers. And in some competing states, such as Nevada and Florida, Trump ate among Latino’s in support of Biden.
On Wednesday, candidates were locked in a close and uncertain race, with election officials continuing to count votes in the major battlefield. Voting for both parties appeared strong as voters expressed concern about the country’s future. Six out of 10 voters – including most Biden voters and about a quarter of Trump voters – said the nation was on the wrong track.
The AP Votecast is a nationwide survey of over 133,000 voters and non-voters conducted for the Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
The two competing coalitions aligned behind different priorities for the country, and there were two different ideas on which candidates could better address those concerns. More voters – both nationwide and in major battlegrounds – said the former vice president said the top concern for 41% of voters would be better handling the coronovirus epidemic.
They were voters like Maria Foster, a 20-year-old server at a restaurant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who voted for Biden. Foster said he believes Trump is “not doing much” including the spread of a virus that has claimed more than 230,000 American lives. “We’re at COVID for like nine months and it’s still getting worse, not getting better.”
But Trump wished Biden on the question that a better economy could be rebuilt by the loss of nearly 11 million jobs as the pace for a full and quick recovery has faded. Twenty-eight percent of voters gave top priority to the national economy.
Scott Cross, 60, a draftsman from Nashville, Tennessee, voted for Trump and said the main issue for him was “economy, economy, economy”.
“I can’t think of a better man, if there is a tinkering in the economy, to get him there,” he said.
Opposition to the top concerns greatly influenced the campaign. Biden said the economy cannot return to its former strength as long as the coronovirus persists. Trump argued that the economy should not be a casualty of the disease and should be maintained without evidence, that the nation was “doing the turn”.
Despite increasing cases of the virus across the country, Trump voters echoed his optimism. About 8 in 10 said their vote was in support of them, not in opposition to Biden. He continues the process of moving the political system, saying he welcomed how Trump changed the government.
Nearly three-quarters of American voters were white and 55% of them supported Trump. The president secured 81% of white evangelical Christians. About half of the men voted for him. Trump won 60% of voters living in small towns and rural areas.
Nationwide, approximately 57% of college graduates supported Biden. So did 55% of women. And 55% of voters under 45 years of age. He won 65% of the urban electorate and 54% of the suburbs.
After mounting tensions, peaceful demonstrations and several times violent clashes over racial violence, Biden voters in the US were more concerned about racism. Nearly all Biden voters called racism a serious problem in American society and policing, including about 7 in 10 who called it “serious”.
Voters in the major battlefield shared concerns about the virus and its spread. The Associated Press declared Biden the winner in Wisconsin, where 45% of voters said the epidemic was the top issue facing the country, and 57% said it was not under control. About two-thirds of the people said that the government should stop its spread despite damaging the economy.
Nearly half of Wisconsin voters said Biden would do a better job of combating the virus, largely in Michigan and Pennsylvania, similar to two other battlegrounds. The AP on Wednesday declared Biden the winner in Michigan. Trump had an edge in strengthening the economy, with nearly half of voters in these states saying he would do better than Biden.
Trump has sought to sow doubts about the new voting system and the legality of the count, and claimed without evidence that some voters will cheat. His campaign has announced that it will sue in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop the vote count.
The poll found that 3 out of 10 voters suspected that their votes would be counted correctly. Concerns about voting were few in Pennsylvania, where 36% did not believe the vote count would be accurate.
AP is a poll of American voters conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for VoteCast, Fox News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Univision News, USA Today Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. As soon as the voting closed, 110,485 voters were surveyed for eight days. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey mixed a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files; Self-registered registered voters using the NORC prospect based AmeriSpeak panel, which is representative of the American population; And self-registered registered voters were selected from non-proportional online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 0.4 percentage points. Find out more about the methodology of AP Votecast at https://ap.org/votecast.
AP employee Doug Glass from Kenosa, Wisconsin contributed to this report, and AP employee Kristin Hall from Nashville, Tennessee contributed to this report.
For full coverage of AP in US presidential elections: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020