AP VoteCast: Michigan voters say health care is top issue

Hope Yen and Hannah Fingerhut
Associated Press

Washington – Voters in Michigan’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 4 in 10 named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates. Roughly 2 in 10 each had climate change and the economy on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Michigan.

Health care was the top issue for voters in Michigan's Democratic primary.

The Associated Press declared Joe Biden the winner just after the polls closed in Michigan, basing the call on data from VoteCast.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Michigan – who they are and how they voted – based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 2,444 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Do they want a big change?

Voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary were closely divided over whether they wanted 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.

What else voters want

Close to 9 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump. About 8 in 10 considered it highly important that the candidate is a strong leader and cares about people like them.

Roughly 7 in 10 said a nominee should have the best policy ideas and “the right experience.”

Being willing to work across the aisle was considered very significant for a Democratic nominee by about 6 in 10 voters.

Divided by race

Among white voters in Michigan, Biden had an advantage over Bernie Sanders.

That lead widened among black voters. About two-thirds of black voters supported the former vice president over the Vermont senator.

Divided by age

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

Older voters were more likely to support Biden than Sanders, with about two-thirds of those 45 and older backing the former vice president.

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 mostly confident that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Still, 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 more than 4 in 10 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 nearly two-thirds of 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. Close to 9 in 10 are in favor.

More than half of the 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 2 in 10 voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A wide majority – about 7 in 10 – expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

About another 2 in 10 called the economy the top issue. A significant majority described the economic system in this country as unfair. That includes about a third who said it’s very unfair.

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

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 2,444 voters in Michigan 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 3.4 percentage points.