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AP VoteCast: Illinois primary marked by virus concerns

Voters in Illinois cast their ballots in Tuesday’s Democratic primary during a pandemic that has stunted travel, closed schools, forced millions of workers to stay home and canceled campaign rallies.

Many voters expressed concerns that they or their family members will be infected with the new coronavirus and 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.

Vice President Joe Biden won Illinois, as well as Arizona and Florida on Tuesday.

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.

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 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 favor. Roughly 3 in 10 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. Roughly 9 in 10 are in favor.

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

DO THEY WANT A BIG CHANGE?

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 57 percent, said they preferred a candidate who will pursue practical, centrist policies to one pursuing bold liberal policies.

DIVIDED BY RACE

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

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

Latino voters were divided in their support between Sanders and Biden.

DIVIDED BY AGE

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.

LARGELY UNIFIED AGAINST TRUMP

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

SKEPTICISM TOWARD THE PARTY

Voters are skeptical that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair. Only a quarter says 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.

CLIMATE CHANGE, THE ECONOMY AND OTHER ISSUES

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.

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