California voters rank health care, climate as top issues facing U.S.: AP VoteCast

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People vote at a beachside vote center in El Segundo during the presidential primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images)

People vote at a beachside vote center in El Segundo during the presidential primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images)

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

About a third named health care, an issue that has intensely divided the field of Democratic candidates. Nearly as many had climate change on their minds, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in California.

The Associated Press declared Bernie Sanders the winner just after the polls closed in California, basing the call on data from VoteCast.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in California — who they are and how they voted — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 4,023 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.


More voters in California’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. Close to 6 in 10 voters said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.


Roughly 8 in 10 said it was very important that a nominee can beat Trump. Similar numbers also considered strong leadership highly important.

Nearly 7 in 10 said it was very important that a candidate have the best policy ideas, while about as many said the same of one who cares about people like them.

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


Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden each received support from about a quarter of white voters in California. Fewer supported Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Black voters were somewhat more likely to back Biden than Sanders, Bloomberg or Warren.

Among Latino voters, Sanders enjoyed a clear advantage.


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

Unlike in other states, Biden only had a slight lead among voters ages 45 and older in California. About 3 in 10 supported Biden, while Sanders and Bloomberg each received support from about 2 in 10 voters.


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.


Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Nearly 2 in 10 say they are very confident that the process for selecting a presidential nominee is fair. About one-third have little to no confidence, while nearly half say they are somewhat confident.


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 roughly a third of voters.

There is majority support for a government-run health care system for all Americans, with more than 6 in 10 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. Nearly 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.


More than one-quarter of voters said climate change is the most important issue facing the nation. A wide majority — about 8 in 10 — expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

About 2 in 10 called the economy the top issue. But a significant majority described the economic system in this country as unfair. That includes one-third who said it’s very unfair.

Small shares of voters considered race relations, immigration, gun policy or abortion most important.

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