AP VoteCast: Health care the top issue in Minnesota

Published 8:12 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Voters in Minnesota’s Democratic primary ranked health care as the most important issue facing the country, well above the economy, race relations, foreign policy and many other social issues.

About 4 in 10 voters named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates, while 3 in 10 had climate change on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in Minnesota.

Joe Biden won the Minnesota primary.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in Minnesota — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 1,337 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Do they want a big change?

Somewhat more voters in Minnesota’s Democratic primary said they wanted a candidate who would bring fundamental change to Washington, rather than one who would restore the political system to how it was before Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

But change in Washington doesn’t look the same to everyone. About 6 in 10 voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

Late deciders

About half of Democratic primary voters in Minnesota say they made up their minds just days before casting their ballots, likely a result of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s departure from the race. Biden was aided significantly, with more than half of those voters supporting his candidacy.

Divided by age

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

By contrast, Biden had a significant advantage among voters ages 45 and older, with about half supporting the former vice president.

What else voters want

Nearly 9 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump, and about 8 in 10 considered strong leadership highly important.

Roughly 7 in 10 said it was very important that a candidate cares about people like them.

Having “the right experience,” being willing to work across the aisle and having the best policy ideas were considered very significant for a Democratic nominee by about 6 in 10 voters.

Primary process skepticism

Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Close to 2 in 10 say they are very confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair. Roughly a third have little to no confidence, while about half 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 about a third of voters.

There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with close to two-thirds of voters saying they are in favor. About a third of voters 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. About 9 in 10 are in favor.

About 6 in 10 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 3 in 10 voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A wide majority — about 9 in 10 — expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Just about 1 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.