WASHINGTON – The U.S. presidential election highlighted sharply different views on the ongoing public health crisis, a stubborn economic downturn and racial inequality. But it also showed that candidates can't always take traditional supporters for granted, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.
A majority of Latino voters largely supported Democrat Joe Biden nationally. But President Donald Trump was able to cut into that support in some competitive states, like Florida and Nevada, revealing important shifts among Latino voters from many different cultural backgrounds.
A summer of protests over racism in policing and the coronavirus pandemic also exposed deep racial divisions.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 133,000 voters and nonvoters nationwide conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Trump sought to make inroads into traditionally strong Latino support for Democrats, courting them with promises of job growth and misleading claims about Democrats and socialism.
Nationally, Biden earned support from roughly two-thirds of Latino voters, while Trump got the backing of about a third. About 3 in 10 Latino voters have supported Republican candidates in recent cycles, including in 2018, according to AP VoteCast, and in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of voters.
But Latino voters are not a monolithic bloc, given their vastly different cultures, and many U.S.-born Latinos have few cultural ties to Latin America.
In winning Florida, Trump was aided by Cuban voters, who are more likely than other Latinos to back Republicans. Cuban voters were 5% of the electorate in Florida, and 58% of them supported the president.
AP VoteCast also found South Americans made up 3% of the electorate, and they split about evenly between the two candidates. Puerto Ricans, who backed Biden by about two to one, made up 5%.
In Nevada, Biden received support from just about half of Latinos, and about 4 in 10 backed Trump.
In Arizona, by comparison, 18% of the electorate was Latino, and they backed Biden by a wide margin, 59% to 38%. A majority of Latino voters in Arizona identified as Mexican.
A summer of protests over racial inequality in policing exposed sharply divergent views on racism, while the coronavirus pandemic laid bare racial disparities in health care. Both affected how voters cast their ballots.
Biden voters almost universally said racism is a serious problem in U.S. society and in policing, including about 7 in 10 who called it “very” serious. A slim majority of Trump voters — who are overwhelming white — called racism a serious problem in U.S. society, and just under half said it was a serious problem in policing.
There also were sharply divergent experiences with the pandemic. About 4 in 10 Black voters and about 3 in 10 Latino voters said they lost a family member or close friend to the virus, while just about 1 in 10 white voters said the same.
Latino and Black voters also were more likely to lose household income because of the pandemic.
Those voters fall into Biden’s column, meaning his voters were somewhat more likely than Trump voters to say they’ve felt the impact in at least one of the ways the survey asked about, 73% to 62%.
Trump for months has sought to sow doubts about vote-counting — especially of mail-in ballots, which take longer to count and tend to favor Democrats — claiming without evidence that the process was ripe for fraud and that Democrats would try to steal the election.
The survey suggest his voters were listening.
Trump supporters were more likely to distrust the vote-counting process, though voters for both candidates had their doubts. About 7 in 10 voters were confident that votes would be counted accurately, though only about a quarter of voters were “very confident." Almost 8 in 10 Biden voters were confident, compared with about 6 in 10 Trump supporters.
Trump voters felt more confident about another democratic institution that has already played a role in this year's election: the Supreme Court. The high court, along with lower courts, handled lawsuits in recent weeks about the count of mail-in ballots in several states. That was before conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett filled her seat on the Supreme Court after the Republican-controlled Senate sped through her confirmation just before the election.
About 9 in 10 Trump voters were at least somewhat confident in the high court to be fair and impartial in its decisions, compared with about half as many Biden voters.
TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS
Longstanding partisan divides have defined the past four years, explaining why roughly three-quarters of voters said they’ve known all along who they were supporting in this election. VoteCast shows stark differences between Trump and Biden supporters — on the virus, the economy, even on football.
As U.S. coronavirus cases rise, claiming more than 232,000 lives, a majority of Biden voters — about 6 in 10 — said the pandemic was the most important issue facing the country. And Biden voters overwhelmingly said the federal government should prioritize limiting the spread of the virus — even if that damages the economy.
But Trump voters were more focused on the economy. About half of Trump voters called the economy and jobs the top issue facing the nation, while only 1 in 10 Biden voters named it most important.
The two groups did not agree on the state of the economy, either. Trump voters remain adamant that the economy is in good shape: About three-quarters call national economic conditions excellent or good. About 8 in 10 Biden voters call them not so good or poor.
Partisanship even seemed to cloud views on football among voters in many states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. When the coronavirus threatened the Big Ten's college football season, Trump campaigned on ensuring the games would be played. Not surprisingly, across eight states, voters who approved of the Big Ten playing this year supported Trump over Biden. Those who saw it as a mistake were more likely to back Biden.
Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Univision News, USA Today Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. The survey of 110,485 voters was conducted for eight days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files; self-identified registered voters using NORC’s probability based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population; and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 0.4 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. presidential elections: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020