AP VoteCast: Massachusetts cares about health care, climate

JULIET LINDERMAN and HANNAH FINGERHUT
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AP VoteCast Nominee MA

Qualities Democratic voters in Massachusetts consider most important in a Democratic presidential nominee;

Voters in Massachusetts’ Democratic primary ranked health care and climate change as the most important issues facing the country, well above the economy, race relations, foreign policy and many other social issues.

About a third named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates. Roughly 3 in 10 had climate change on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Massachusetts.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the state primary.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Massachusetts — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 3,085 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

DO THEY WANT A BIG CHANGE?

More voters in Massachusetts’ Democratic primary said they wanted a candidate who would bring fundamental change to Washington, rather than one who would restore the political system to how it was before Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

But change in Washington doesn’t look the same to everyone. About 6 in 10 voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

WHAT ELSE VOTERS WANT

Close to 8 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump, and about as many considered strong leadership highly important.

About two-thirds of voters said it was very important that a candidate cares about people like them.

Having “the right experience,” having the best policy ideas and being willing to work across the aisle were considered very significant by about 6 in 10 voters.

DIVIDED BY GENDER

Biden was in the lead among female voters, with roughly a third supporting him. Roughly a quarter went for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the hometown candidate.

Among men, about 3 in 10 voters supported both Biden and Sanders. About 2 in 10 voters supported Warren, and roughly 1 in 10 went for Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

DIVIDED BY AGE

Sanders continued to show strength among young voters, especially those under 30. About half of them supported the 78-year-old senator.

About 4 in 10 voters ages 45 and older supported Biden. Roughly 2 in 10 each went for Sanders and Warren. About 1 in 10 went for Bloomberg.

LARGELY UNIFIED AGAINST TRUMP

A wide majority say they will definitely vote for the Democratic candidate against Trump in the general election. Still, about 2 in 10 say their decision will depend on which Democrat is on the ballot in November.

PRIMARY PROCESS SKEPTICISM

Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Just about 2 in 10 say they are very confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair. Roughly 4 in 10 have little to no confidence, while slightly more said they are somewhat confident.

DEBATING HEALTH CARE

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 roughly a third of voters.

There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with about 6 in 10 voters saying they are in favor. Roughly 4 in 10 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. About 9 in 10 are in favor.

About half of voters are in favor of either proposal, while about 3 in 10 say they favor a public option but oppose a single-payer system.

CLIMATE CHANGE, THE ECONOMY AND OTHER ISSUES

Roughly 3 in 10 voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A wide majority, about 8 in 10 voters, expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Just about 1 in 10 voters called the economy the top issue. But a significant majority described the economic system in this country as unfair. That includes about 4 in 10 who said it’s very unfair.

Small shares of voters considered race relations, immigration, gun policy or abortion most important.

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 3,085 voters in Massachusetts was conducted for seven days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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