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AP VoteCast: Voters split on virus, economy, even football


WASHINGTON — As they chose a leader in a time of turmoil, supporters of President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden found little common ground on the top crises facing the nation.

The divide between Republican and Democratic America cut across the economy, public health and racial justice, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Among the few shared views in the two camps of voters: Trump has changed the way things work in Washington. Most Trump voters say he has changed Washington for the better; most Biden voters say he's changed it for the worse.

Here’s a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 133,000 voters and nonvoters nationwide conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.


The differences between Trump and Biden supporters — on the virus, the economy, even on football — are stark.

As U.S. coronavirus cases rise, claiming more than 232,000 lives, a majority of Biden voters — about 6 in 10 — said the pandemic was the most important issue facing the country. And Biden voters overwhelmingly said the federal government should prioritize limiting the spread of the virus — even if that damages the economy.

But Trump voters were more focused on the economy. About half of Trump voters called the economy and jobs the top issue facing the nation, while only 1 in 10 Biden voters named it most important.

The two groups did not agree on the state of the economy, either. Trump voters remain adamant that the economy is in good shape: About three-quarters call national economic conditions excellent or good. About 8 in 10 Biden voters call them not so good or poor.

Partisanship even seemed to cloud views on football among voters in many states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. When the coronavirus threatened the Big Ten's college football season, Trump campaigned on ensuring the games would be played. Not surprisingly, across eight states, voters who approved of the Big Ten playing this year supported Trump over Biden. Those who saw it as a mistake were more likely to back Biden.


Trump won four years ago with a message of disruption, promising to shake up the Washington establishment, roll back regulations and put America first — and his message still resonates with his supporters. They like what they're seeing.

Trump voters overwhelmingly said their vote was an endorsement of him, not cast in opposition to Biden. And they were more likely than Biden voters to say they agreed with their candidate all or most of the time, 81% versus 74%.

An overwhelming majority of Trump voters continue to want to shake up the political system — even after four years of Trump's leadership. But in a twist, a large majority of Democrats now agree — although they'd like a shake-up to oust Trump.

But both candidates' voters expressed worries about Washington corruption, with an overwhelming majority saying they believe corruption would be a “major problem” in their opponent’s administration.


Although a wide majority of voters said the coronavirus pandemic has affected them personally, there were deep racial and partisan disparities.

About 4 in 10 Black voters and about 3 in 10 Latino voters said they lost a family member or close friend to the virus, while just over 1 in 10 white voters said the same.

Latino and Black voters also were more likely to lose household income because of the pandemic: nearly half of Latino voters and about 4 in 10 Black voters, compared with about a third of white voters.

Voters in cities were more likely than those in other communities to say they have lost a close friend or family member. Urban voters also report income loss somewhat more than other voters.

All these groups of voters fall into Biden's column, meaning his voters were somewhat more likely than Trump voters to say they’ve felt the impact in at least one of the ways the survey asked about, 73% to 62%.


Voters did not stay on the sidelines, with experts predicting total votes will exceed the 139 million cast in 2016. About 101 million people voted ahead of Election Day.

About three-quarters said they've known all along who they were supporting in this election.

Voters were measured in their confidence that the vote count would be accurate — despite Trump seeking to sow doubts about the integrity of the vote count.

About a quarter of voters said they are very confident that the votes in the election will be counted accurately, while just under half were somewhat confident. Roughly 3 in 10 said they are not confident in an accurate vote count.


A summer of protests and sometimes-violent clashes over racial inequality in policing exposed sharply divergent views on racism.

An overwhelming majority of Black voters said racism in the U.S. is a “very serious” problem, but fewer than half of white voters said it is.

Nearly two-thirds of Black voters and about 4 in 10 Latino voters said police are too tough on crime. But among white voters, only about a quarter said police are too tough and roughly as many said police are not tough enough.

Those divisions translate into partisan splits. Biden voters almost universally said racism is a serious problem in U.S. society and in policing, including about 7 in 10 who called it “very” serious. A slim majority of Trump voters — who are overwhelming white — called racism a serious problem in U.S. society, and just under half said it was a serious problem in policing.

But compared with the pandemic and the economy, relatively few voters deemed racism or law enforcement the country’s top issue: 7% said racism was most important and just 4% said law enforcement was.


Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan.


AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Univision News, USA Today Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. The survey of 110,482 voters was conducted for eight days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files; self-identified registered voters using NORC’s probability basedAmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population; and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 0.4 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at



For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. presidential elections:

Tammy Webber And Hannah Fingerhut, The Associated Press

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