VoteCast: Florida voters sour on state of nation



Voters in Florida gave President Donald Trump the state’s 29 electoral votes while holding negative views about the country’s direction and the economy, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.

The race between Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden concluded as the nation remains in the throes of a global public health crisis and mired in the economic downturn it brought on. AP VoteCast found that 42% of Florida voters said the United States is on the right track, and 57% of voters said it is headed in the wrong direction.

Some 46% described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, and 54% called them not so good or poor.

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Here’s a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of about 132,000 voters and nonvoters — including 3,698 voters and 792 nonvoters in Florida — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Trump vs Biden

In the race for president, voters in cities were more likely to prefer Biden. Suburban voters appeared to prefer Trump over Biden. Voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to favor Trump.

Carmen Ines Schumacher of Tampa said she voted for Biden largely due to the virus and how it has affected everything in American life. She said Trump and the Republican Party have handled the pandemic poorly.

“We cannot get together with our families or with our grandkids safely,” Schumacher said. “I cannot fly to California safely because we have no control of the virus. Until there is a safe way for me to fly, I cannot see my grandkids.”

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VoteCast: Florida voters sour on state of nation
FILE: Carmen Inez Schumacher poses for a portrait at Swann Avenue Circle Park Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Keith Montgomery of Clearwater said he has been satisfied with Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

“It was very confusing in the beginning,” Montgomery said. “And I think that everybody was confused in the beginning. I think he’s done an excellent job.”

Both Black voters and Latino voters were more likely to support Biden. Trump was preferred over Biden among white voters.

Trump had an edge among voters without a college degree. College-educated voters were divided between Trump and Biden.

Facing the pandemic

Some 22% of voters said the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and 31% said it’s somewhat under control. Some 47% percent of voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.

The pandemic has spread through the U.S. for roughly eight months, killing more than 230,000 Americans.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a major ally of Trump, has acknowledged that the pandemic is far from over, but argues that the threat has eased and the time has come to reopen for business. In late September, he lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida and banned local fines against people who refuse to wear masks.

On the issues

The pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Florida. Some 40% said it is the most important issue facing the country today.

Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with 29% saying it ranked at the top.

Troy Yeomans of Tallahassee said he voted for Trump partly because of the way the president has kept the economy going during the pandemic.

“We need to be opened back up,” Yeomans said. “It would do more harm if we were all shut up for another six months.”

Michele Peters of St. Petersburg said she voted for Biden and believes the Democrats will do a better job of balancing economic concerns with the coronavirus response.

“The pandemic is out of control,” she said. “We need a person at the helm who is going to lead with our scientists, lead and say we have to get this under control. The economy can work. It can open with safety protocols in place.”

Some 9% named health care, 7% named racism, and 4% named law enforcement as the most important issue.

Staying at home

Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Florida, 24% said that was because they don’t like politics generally, 22% said they don’t like the candidates and 16% said their vote doesn’t matter.

In Florida, 63% of nonvoters were younger than 45, and 78% did not have a college degree.

VoteCast: Florida voters sour on state of nation

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