AP VoteCast: Health care top issue in Alabama

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AP VoteCast Race AL

Is race a factor in the support Democratic candidates received from Alabama voters.;

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in Alabama’s Democratic primary 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 a third named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates. Roughly 2 in 10 had the economy on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Alabama.

Joe Biden won Alabama, boosted by black voters, who as in South Carolina last week overwhelmingly supported him.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Alabama — who they are and how they voted — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 1,193 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

DO THEY WANT A BIG CHANGE?

Voters in Alabama’s Democratic primary were closely divided over whether they want 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 more voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

WHAT ELSE VOTERS WANT

More than 8 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump and cares about people like them. About nine in 10 said being a strong leader was very important.

Roughly 7 in 10 said it was very important that a candidate have the best policy ideas, while about as many said the same of one who has “the right experience.”

Being willing to work across the aisle was considered very significant by more than 6 in 10 voters.

DIVIDED BY RACE

White voters in Alabama were more likely to support Biden over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or any other candidate. About half the voters went for Biden, while about 3 in 10 supported Sanders.

Biden had a significant lead among black voters, with roughly 7 in 10 supporting the former vice president.

DIVIDED BY AGE

Unlike in other states, support for Sanders from young voters under 30 was comparable to their support for Biden. Among voters ages 45 and older, Biden had a significant advantage, about 7 in 10. About 1 in 10 of those ages 45 and older went for Sanders and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

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 in Alabama are mostly confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair, though just about 3 in 10 say they are very confident. About 2 in 10 have little to no confidence, while about half say 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 more than a third of voters.

There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with nearly 6 in 10 voters saying they are in favor. More than a third are opposed.

But support for a public option, where every American could buy into a government-run insurance plan if they want to, is even higher. More than 8 in 10 are in favor.

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

CLIMATE CHANGE, THE ECONOMY AND OTHER ISSUES

About 1 in 10 voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A majority — about 6 in 10 — expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Roughly 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 4 in 10 who said it’s very unfair.

About 1 in 10 named race relations most important. Small shares of voters considered 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 1,193 voters in Alabama was conducted for seven days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The survey is based on interviews with a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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