- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Voters in North Carolina’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. Close to 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 North Carolina.

Joe Biden won the North Carolina primary.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in North Carolina - who they are and what matters to them - based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 2,706 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

DO THEY WANT A BIG CHANGE?



Voters in North Carolina’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.

But a majority of voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

WHAT ELSE VOTERS WANT

Roughly 9 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump, and close to as many considered strong leadership highly important.

About 8 in 10 said it was very important that a candidate cares about people like them. Roughly two-thirds said a candidate should have the best policy ideas and have “the right experience,” while willingness to work across the aisle was considered very significant by about 6 in 10 voters.

DIVIDED BY AGE

Bernie Sanders continued to show strength among young voters, especially those under 30. About half of them supported the 78-year-old senator.

About half of voters ages 45 and older supported Biden, with close to 2 in 10 voting for Mike Bloomberg and roughly 1 in 10 voting for Sanders.

DIVIDED BY RACE

White voters gave about 40% of their votes to Biden, and roughly a quarter supported Sanders. Bloomberg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren each received support from about 1 in 10 white voters.

More than half of black voters supported Biden, compared with about 2 in 10 for Sanders. Roughly 1 in 10 supported Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

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 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 4 in 10 say they are somewhat confident.

DEBATING HEALTH CARE

The campaign to date 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 of voters 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 wanted to, is even higher. Close to 9 in 10 are in favor.

About 6 in 10 voters are in favor of either proposal, while about a quarter 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 three-quarters - expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Close to 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 4 in 10 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 2,706 voters in North Carolina 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 3.6 percentage points.

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

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