WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press is surveying voters in three of the six states holding Democratic presidential contests on Tuesday. Here’s a snapshot of voters in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Part of the “blue wall” that flipped to Donald Trump in 2016, Michigan is a top general election battleground — and a major test for both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both men are hoping the results prove they fire up the Democrats that may decide the election in November.
But the enthusiasm doesn’t appear overwhelming. While a wide majority of Democratic voters in Michigan say they are at least somewhat enthusiastic about voting for their chosen Democrat, only about half are “very enthusiastic.”
And a significant slice of Democratic voters — about 20% — said their decision on how to vote in November will depend on who is nominated as the Democratic candidate.
Democratic voters in Michigan were closely divided over tariffs, though somewhat more said they were opposed to rather than in favor of taxes on goods imported to the U.S. from other countries. Meanwhile, a wide majority — roughly three-quarters — said they think the economic system in this country is unfair. That includes about a third describing it as “very unfair.”
With the race narrowed to two major candidates, voters’ views about electability are coming into sharp focus. In Missouri, a Republican-leaning state, Democratic primary voters were more confident in Biden’s chances of beating Trump than Sanders’.
About 40% think Biden definitely could beat Trump, and another 40% say he probably could.
But just about a quarter say Sanders definitely could defeat Trump in November, with 40% saying he probably could.
Health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates this cycle, was named the most important issue facing the country by close to half of primary voters in Missouri. Roughly 2 in 10 considered climate change the top priority, while about 1 in 10 said that of the economy.
Voters divided about evenly over whether Sanders or Biden would be best able to handle health care as president. But on issues related to race, Biden had an advantage over Sanders as the most capable candidate.
Mississippi voters wanted a nominee that cares about people like them. Voters there ranked that as as big a priority as selecting a candidate who can beat Trump and exhibit strong leadership. About 9 in 10 primary voters in Mississippi said each of the three qualities was very important in a Democratic nominee.
A majority of Democratic primary voters in Mississippi are African American. About 30% of voters overall described their families as “falling behind” financially, compared with 60% who said they are holding steady and just about 10% “getting ahead.” Health care was named the most important issue by about 40% of voters, but roughly a quarter pointed to the economy.
There was support for government-paid reparations to African Americans for slavery and racial discrimination from roughly two-thirds of voters overall, but there was a significant divide by race. About three-quarters of black voters expressed support, compared with about 4 in 10 white voters.
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 surveys were conducted for seven days, concluding as polls closed.