By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Health care, immigration and President Donald Trump were high on voters’ minds as they cast ballots in the midterm elections, according to a wide-ranging survey of the electorate conducted by The Associated Press.
AP’s VoteCast survey of more than 115,000 voters paints a portrait of an enthusiastic yet deeply divided electorate. Women voted considerably more in favor of Democrats.
Democrats are hoping to win the House and put a check on Trump in the first nationwide election of Trump’s presidency. Republicans retained control of the Senate.
Here are some takeaways from VoteCast:
HEALTH CARE AND IMMIGRATION
Health care was at the forefront of many voters’ minds: 27 percent named it as the most important issue facing the country in this year’s midterm elections. Immigration was not far behind, with 23 percent naming it as the most important issue.
Those who voted for a Democratic House candidate were more likely to say health care was their top issue, while those who voted for a Republican were more likely to name immigration.
Others considered the economy (19 percent), gun policy (8 percent) and the environment (7 percent) to be the top issue.
IS IT ALL ABOUT TRUMP?
Nearly two-thirds of voters said Trump was a reason for their vote, while about a third said he was not. Nearly 4 in 10 voters said they cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, while a quarter of voters said they voted to express support for Trump.
Women voted considerably more in favor of their congressional Democratic candidate: About 6 in 10 voted for the Democrat, compared with about 4 in 10 voting for the Republican. Men were more narrowly divided in their vote.
A large majority of voters were enthusiastic heading to the polls, with nearly 9 in 10 reporting that they were extremely or very interested in the midterm election.
Nationally, 70 percent of registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — around 8 in 10 — did not have a college degree. About as many nonvoters were Democrats (32 percent) as Republicans (32 percent).
Voters have a positive view of the state of the national economy — about two-thirds said the condition of the economy is excellent or good, compared with a third who said it’s not good or poor.
A majority of voters overall said the country is headed in the wrong direction. About 6 in 10 voters said it is headed in the wrong direction, while around 4 in 10 said it’s on the right track.
A quarter of voters said the Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” should be repealed entirely. About another quarter said parts of the law should be repealed. Around a third of voters said it should be expanded, and about 1 in 10 preferred it be left as it is.
About 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage.
About three-quarters of voters said the debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was very or somewhat important to their vote. Those who said it was very important to their vote were more likely to support the Democratic candidate. The GOP-led Senate confirmed Kavanaugh after a California professor accused him of sexual assault when both were in high school. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.
Roughly half of voters approve of Trump’s handling of Supreme Court nominations.
The country is almost evenly divided on whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. Democrats overwhelmingly said there was collusion, and Republicans overwhelmingly said there was not.
Around three-quarters of voters are concerned about women not being believed when they make allegations of sexual misconduct. About the same share said they are concerned about men not being given the opportunity to defend themselves against allegations of sexual misconduct.
In suburban areas, where key House races will be decided, voters skewed toward Democrats by a nearly 10-point margin. Urbanites voted almost 2 to 1 in favor of Democrats, and small-town and rural voters cast votes for the Republican by a smaller margin.
The survey found that 44 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance — a finding that is largely consistent with recent polling. More voters gave Trump a positive rating on his handling of the economy (54 percent), and around half approve of the president on border security.
Nearly half of Americans said Trump is a strong leader and has brought needed change to the government. About 7 in 10 voters said Trump stands up for what he believes in.
Still, only about a third said Trump has the right temperament to serve as president. Around the same share see him as honest and trustworthy.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted in all 50 states by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 113,677 voters and 21,599 nonvoters was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English and Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files; with self-identified registered voters conducted using NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population; and with self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. Participants selected from state voter files were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.
© 2018, Newspaper Staff. All rights reserved.