AP VoteCast: Health care top issue in Texas

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AP VoteCast Race TX

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

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in Texas’ 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.

Nearly 4 in 10 named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates. Sixteen percent each had climate change and the economy on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Texas.

The AP called Texas for Joe Biden.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Texas — who they are and how they voted — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 3,268 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

DO THEY WANT A BIG CHANGE?

Somewhat more voters in Texas' 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 said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

WHAT ELSE VOTERS WANT

Close to 9 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee be a strong leader. Roughly 8 in 10 said they considered beating Trump and caring about people like them highly important.

About 7 in 10 said it was very important that a candidate have the best policy ideas and “the right experience.”

Willingness to work across the aisle was considered very significant by about 6 in 10 voters.

DIVIDED BY RACE

Comparable shares of white voters in Texas -- about 30% -- supported both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Biden. Some gave their support to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

About half of black voters in Texas supported Biden, compared with 20% for Sanders and 15% for Bloomberg. By comparison, about 4 in 10 Latino voters supported Sanders, while about a quarter went for Biden and about 2 in 10 for Bloomberg. Bloomberg dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

DIVIDED BY AGE

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

About 4 in 10 voters ages 45 and older supported Biden, with roughly another 2 in 10 each supporting Bloomberg and Sanders.

LARGELY UNIFIED AGAINST TRUMP

A wide majority say they will definitely vote for the Democratic candidate against Trump in the general election. Still, about a quarter 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 a quarter say they are very confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair. Roughly 3 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 roughly 4 in 10 voters.

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

About 6 in 10 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

Sixteen percent of 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.

Another 16% of voters called the economy the top issue. But a significant majority described the economic system in this country as unfair. That includes about one-third 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 3,268 voters in Texas 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 4.1 percentage points.

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