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AP VoteCast: Colorado voters sour on state of nation

November 4, 2020 GMT
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A man fills out his ballot after registering to vote at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. The church served as a location where voters could register, drop off completed ballots or fill out a ballot in person. (Forrest Czarnecki/The Gazette via AP)
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A man fills out his ballot after registering to vote at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. The church served as a location where voters could register, drop off completed ballots or fill out a ballot in person. (Forrest Czarnecki/The Gazette via AP)

Colorado voters who made it a sweep for Democrats in the state’s presidential and U.S. Senate races said the country is on the wrong track, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.

As voters on Tuesday finished deciding between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden in a year upended by a global pandemic and economic downturn, AP VoteCast found that just one-third of Colorado voters said the U.S. is on the right track while two-thirds 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 — 2,995 voters and 806 nonvoters in Colorado — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

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RACE FOR PRESIDENT

Biden won Colorado and its nine electoral votes as both white voters and Latino voters were more likely to support the Democrat.

Biden had an advantage over Trump among voters under 45, and the former vice president appeared to lead among older voters.

Colorado was not a top-tier battleground in the presidential race. Trump lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and since then Colorado appeared to move further to the left.

Trump came to the state just once in 2020 for a rally in Colorado Springs in February. Biden, who has run primarily a virtual campaign nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic, didn’t hold any public campaign rallies in the state.

Biden, who finished behind Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary in March, was counting on Colorado’s large number of Democratic-leaning suburban and college-educated residents.

College-educated voters were more likely to back Biden over Trump, but voters without a college degree were split.

Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to support Biden while voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to back Trump.

RACE FOR SENATE

In the closely watched U.S. Senate race, former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated Republican Sen. Cory Gardner behind the backing of younger voters.

Hickenlooper was preferred over Gardner among voters under 45, and older voters also appeared to prefer the Democrat.

Both white voters and Latino voters were more likely to back Hickenlooper over Gardner.

Voters without a college degree modestly preferred Hickenlooper. College-educated voters were more likely to back the former governor.

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Voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to back Gardner. Hickenlooper had an advantage among both voters in cities and suburban voters.

FACING THE PANDEMIC

Biden repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus while Trump often responded that his opponent wanted to shut down the economy again to control the pandemic.

Overall, almost 2 in 5 voters said the virus in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and roughly 3 in 5 said it’s somewhat under control. But half of Colorado’s voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.

“A much higher percentage of our population’s getting sicker than other countries. And to me that definitely goes back to a leadership problem starting at the top,” said Bryan McCord, 35, a Biden voter who works for an electrical contracting company in Denver.

More than 2,000 have died from the virus across Colorado, and a rising number of cases this fall led state health officials to place new limits on personal gatherings of people from different households in nearly half of the state’s counties.

NATIONAL ECONOMY

Voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation’s economy. Overall, 2 in 5 described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, and 3 in 5 called them not so good or poor.

Christopher Nelson, 44, a retired veteran who lives near Glenwood Springs and voted for Trump, said the president has succeeded at bringing back industry jobs and lessening the financial support given to other countries.

“America has deep pockets, I understand that, but we can’t continuously fork out and be the one always leading and be the one with more bankroll,” he said.

ON THE ISSUES

The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Colorado. Close to 2 in 5 said it is the most important issue facing the country today. About a quarter of the voters cited the economy while roughly 1 in 10 said it was climate change and almost the same number said health care.

Logan Stickney, 37, an occupational therapist in Centennial, said it wasn’t just one or two issues that pushed him to Biden.

“Watching everything that’s happened in the last four years from kids in cages at the border, to the U.S. alienating our allies abroad, to the mismanagement of the pandemic, to the President constantly going on Twitter and disparaging others and acting with behavior that I wouldn’t accept from my 2-year-old really just solidified my belief that we need to go in a different direction,” he said.

STAYING AT HOME

Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Colorado, 3 in 10 said that was because they don’t like politics generally, 1 in 5 said they don’t like the candidates and almost 1 in 5 said their vote doesn’t matter.

In Colorado, 3 in 5 of nonvoters were younger than 45 and two-thirds did not have a college degree.

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Univision News, USA Today Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. The survey of 2,995 voters in Colorado was conducted for eight days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English and 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 2.3 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. presidential elections: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020