AP VoteCast: Health care, climate top issues in California

March 4, 2020 GMT
1 of 5
Is race a factor in the support Democratic candidates received from California's voters.;
1 of 5
Is race a factor in the support Democratic candidates received from California's voters.;

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Sen. Bernie Sanders was the winner in California, where he was boosted by strong support from Latinos.

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. Bloomberg dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

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

Among Latinos, Sanders enjoyed a clear advantage, winning about half of those voters.


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

Biden had the edge 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.


AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 4,023 voters in California was conducted for seven days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”