AP VoteCast: Democratic Voters prioritize health care in South Carolina and all Super Tuesday states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary election in South Carolina called health care the top issue facing the country today, clearly naming it as more important than the economy, climate change, immigration, race relations and guns.

That’s a change from Iowa and New Hampshire, where Democrats put climate change alongside health care as the top issue facing the country — far above all others.

About 4 in 10 voters on Saturday picked health care as the top issue, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina. Twenty-one percent said the economy and jobs are the most important, while 14% of voters identified climate change. Roughly 1 in 10 called out race relations.

The AP VoteCast survey also found that a smaller majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina than in Iowa and New Hampshire said it was more important to support a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works than one who would restore the political system to how it was before President Donald Trump took office.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in South Carolina — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 1,483 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

WHAT VOTERS WANT

Close to 9 in 10 Democratic voters in South Carolina said a strong leader is a very important quality in a Democratic presidential nominee, while being able to beat Trump and caring for people like them followed close behind as important qualities.

Roughly three-quarters said it was very important that the nominee has the best policy ideas, while about two-thirds said that of a candidate who has the right experience or would work across party lines.

DIVIDED BY RACE

There were significant differences in vote across racial lines. African American voters in South Carolina went for former Vice President Joe Biden over any other candidate by a significant margin. Close to half supported him, compared with roughly 2 in 10 giving support to both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Tom Steyer.

That compares with white voters, who gave support to both Biden and Sanders, with the remaining support split across several other candidates.

DIVIDED BY AGE

As in Iowa and New Hampshire, a stark age gap persisted in South Carolina, with young voters especially likely to support Sanders and those older more likely to prefer Biden.

About half of voters under 30 supported Sanders; about half of voters 65 and older chose Biden.

The age divide was significant among black voters as well. About 6 in 10 black voters ages 45 and older supported Biden. Black voters under 45 were somewhat more likely than those older to support Sanders, with about as many supporting Sanders as Biden.

DIVIDED BY GENDER

Overall, Biden held a significant advantage among women, while men were more closely divided between Biden and Sanders.

While young women split their votes across several candidates, young men were especially likely to support Sanders.

THE NOMINATION PROCESS

Confidence in the Democratic Party’s nomination process was measured. Just about a quarter of South Carolina’s Democratic voters said they are very confident that the process to select a presidential nominee is fair, and about 3 in 10 express little to no confidence in the fairness of the party’s nomination process. Close to half say they are somewhat confident.

THE HEALTH CARE DIVIDE

A highly debated subject for Democrats this year, health care was named the top issue by about 4 in 10 of voters in South Carolina.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.