ORLANDO, Fla. – Voters in Florida made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.
[INTERACTIVE: Use tool at bottom of story to find out what mattered to Florida, U.S. voters]
The race between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden concluded Tuesday 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 38% of Florida voters said the United States is on the right track, and 61% of voters said it is headed in the wrong direction.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of about 127,000 voters and nonvoters -- including 3,584 voters and 759 nonvoters in Florida -- conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
FACING THE PANDEMIC
Some 20% of voters said the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and 29% said it’s somewhat under control. Fifty-one percent of voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.
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.”
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.”
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.
Nowhere does the pandemic threaten Trump’s political future more than Florida, where Democrats have been railing against the Republican president’s inability to control the health threat in a state packed with older people.
ON THE ISSUES
The pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Florida. Forty-two percent said it is the most important issue facing the country today.
Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with 27% 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 10% named health care, 7% named racism and 3% named law enforcement as the most important issue.
Voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation’s economy. Overall, 42% described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, and 57% called them not so good or poor.
In Florida, the economic fallout from business shutdowns aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19 was a focus of campaign debate. But Florida Republicans were optimistic improvement in the economy over the summer would help Trump’s chances of winning the state
As polls close and votes are tallied, we’ll not only see which presidential candidate more Floridians preferred but we’ll also have the chance to see what issues mattered most to those who visited the polls and why they chose to vote one way over the other.
That information is available for states throughout the U.S., including the Sunshine State, thanks to the Associated Press' AP Votecast service.
The interactive below allows users to explore the survey’s findings by state. Once a user selects a state from the first dropdown menu, they can use the dropdown menu below to see where voters in that state stood on key issues.
For example, if a user wanted to see how Floridians who were surveyed felt about the current state of the U.S. economy, they would select “Florida” from the “state” dropdown menu, then choose “Assessments of the national economy” from the “topic" dropdown menu. They would also get to see which presidential candidate those who answered the question preferred. Users can also see voters' views on the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s direction and other issues.
You can also take a closer look at voter demographics in each state by choosing to view voters by race, age, gender, education and/or community type from the second dropdown menu.
AP VoteCast is a wide ranging survey of the American electorate, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press. The survey of more than 100,000 voters will provide insight into who voted, and why, in this year’s general election.
You can also check live race results by visiting ClickOrlando.com.