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AP VoteCast: Illinois primary marked by virus concerns

There was a significant divide by race in candidate preference in the Democratic primary for president.;
March 18, 2020 - 8:36 AM

WASHINGTON - Voters in Illinois cast their ballots in the state's Democratic primary during a pandemic that has stunted travel, closed schools, forced millions of workers to stay home and cancelled campaign rallies.

Many voters on Tuesday expressed concerns that they or their family members will be infected with the new coronavirus. At the same time, voters 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 said they are very concerned that they or a relative will get the virus, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Illinois. More than 4 in 10 were somewhat concerned, while nearly a quarter expressed little to no concern.

The Associated Press declared former Vice-President Joe Biden the winner in Illinois, basing the call on data from VoteCast.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Illinois — who they are and how they voted — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 2,738 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.


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 about 4 in 10 voters.

There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with about 7 in 10 voters saying they are in favour. Roughly 3 in 10 are opposed.

But support for a public option, in which every American could buy into a government-run insurance plan if they wanted to, is even higher. Roughly 9 in 10 are in favour.

About two-thirds of voters are in favour of either proposal, while about a quarter say they favour a public option but oppose a single-payer system.


Voters in the Democratic primary in Illinois were more likely to say they wanted a candidate who would bring fundamental change to Washington over one who would restore the political system to how it was before Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

A clear majority of voters, about 56%, said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.


Among white voters, Biden had an advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. About 60% supported Biden.

Black voters went for Biden over Sanders by an even wider margin, with about three-quarters supporting the former vice-president.

The two candidates were competitive among Latino voters, with Sanders just slightly ahead of Biden.


Sanders continued to show strength among young voters, especially those under 30. About 7 in 10 voters under 30 supported the 78-year-old senator.

Older voters were more likely to support Biden than Sanders.


A wide majority say they would vote for Biden or Sanders against Trump in the general election. Still, 12% say they would vote for Biden but not for Sanders, while about 8% say they would vote for Sanders but not Biden.


Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Only 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 4 in 10 say they are somewhat confident.

Meanwhile, only about 3 in 10 voters are very confident that the Democratic Party’s leadership represents their values; roughly half are somewhat confident. About 2 in 10 are not confident.


Close to 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.

Roughly another 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 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 2,738 voters in Illinois 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 3.3 percentage points.


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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