TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Despite optimism about the economy, most Wisconsin voters in Tuesday's midterm election feared the nation is heading downhill amid worries about health care and other issues, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.
Roughly six in 10 of the state's voters casting ballots for governor, U.S. Senate and members of Congress described the country as on the wrong track while about four in 10 said things are going in the right direction, AP VoteCast found.
Here's a snapshot of who voted and why in Wisconsin, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 135,000 voters and nonvoters — including 4,520 voters and 550 nonvoters in the state of Wisconsin — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
TOP ISSUE: HEALTH CARE
About twice as many Wisconsin residents labeled health care the top challenge facing the nation as those choosing any other issue. More than one-third said it was their primary concern.
"Everyone has a right to health care," said Abigail Walls, 31, a disabled resident of West Allis. "It is a basic human right to be able to, if you are sick, go to a doctor, get the medicines you need, get the care you need and not have to be saddled with a bill that's hundreds of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Sam Schmidt, 28, a Republican from West Allis, said having government provide health care for everyone would be "jumping the line."
"Why would you force anyone to buy anything?" he said.
Nearly one-fifth of voters considered immigration and the economy the top issues, while smaller numbers picked the environment and gun policy.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Wisconsin voters had a positive view of the nation's economic prospects, with 65 percent saying it's in good shape while 34 percent who said it's going poorly.
Supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who was seeking a third term, credited his policies such as lowering taxes, expanding broadband statewide and luring Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn to the state.
Opponents echoed Democratic nominee Tony Evers' complaint that the Foxconn deal could cost the state billions in lost tax revenue.
About six in 10 voters said their feelings about President Donald Trump influenced their votes, while about four in 10 said he wasn't a factor.
Schmidt praised Trump's attempts to renegotiate trade agreements with other countries, saying existing pacts with Mexico and China "have been kind of one-sided where they would win all the trades."
Nicole Hassett, a 38-year-old waitress and single mother from Sun Prairie, said anger with Trump was a big reason for her straight Democratic ticket vote.
"I'm tired of his lies. He's manipulative," Hassett said. "I just didn't want to vote Republican. The way this government is working today, Republican is not good."
CONTROL OF CONGRESS
Tuesday's elections will determine control of Congress in the final two years of Trump's first term in office, and about two-thirds of Wisconsin voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. About one-quarter of the voters said it was somewhat important.
Schmidt said he doesn't follow Congress closely but considers government spending "very inflated" and wants Congress to join Trump in holding the line on taxes.
Amy Franklin Bailey, 42, a Democrat from Green Bay, said she previously voted for a Republican member of Congress because he had seniority and could benefit his district. But with House Republicans putting up no resistance to Trump, she said, that was no longer an option.
"These guys have sold their souls for whatever reason to be identified with this Trump part of the Republican Party," Bailey said.
Associated Press reporters Ivan Moreno in Milwaukee and Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond in Madison contributed to this story.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 4,520 voters and 550 nonvoters in Wisconsin was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.0 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast's methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.