Voters in Wisconsin made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country's direction and economy, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.
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 nearly 4 in 10 Wisconsin voters said the U.S. is on the right track and 6 in 10 voters said it is headed in the wrong direction.
Up for grabs in the state: 10 electoral votes, a key piece of the once solidly Democratic voting "Blue Wall" of Midwest and Great Lakes states that Trump won last election by less than 23,000 votes, or about 1%. It was the first time a Republican presidential candidate had won the state in over two decades.
Here's a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of about 132,000 voters and nonvoters -- including 3,486 voters and 589 nonvoters in Wisconsin -- conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
TRUMP VS BIDEN
In the race for president, Biden led Trump among voters under 45. Older voters were split between Biden and Trump.
David Danke, a 64-year-old retiree who voted in Kenosha, said he's backing the president.
"America first, there you go," he said. "Keep the jobs in this country."
Biden was preferred among college-educated voters. Voters without a college degree were split between Biden and Trump.
Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to prefer Biden over Trump but voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to prefer Trump.
FACING THE PANDEMIC
The coronavirus pandemic has spread through the U.S. for roughly eight months, killing more than 230,000 Americans, and cases are surging in Wisconsin.
Overall, more than 1 in 10 voters said the virus in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and about one quarter said it's somewhat under control. About 6 in 10 voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.
Eric Engstrom, a 31-year-old investment analyst in Madison, Wisconsin, who voted by mail for Biden, said the virus is the most immediate threat facing the nation.
"My wife and I were just on a walk talking about how we're expecting a baby in January and to see hospitals filling up, to even think about the potential of one of us or both of us being sick when the baby is born. …The response to this has been abysmal," he said. "If there was any chance that I was going to vote for Trump, it was eliminated because of the pandemic."
Fears of catching the virus help explain why so many Wisconsin voters chose to return absentee ballots this year. Even before Election Day, more than 1.8 million had already voted this way, more than half of the total votes cast in the 2016 election.
ON THE ISSUES
The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Wisconsin. More than 4 in 10 said it is the most important issue facing the country today.
Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with about one quarter saying it ranked at the top.
Nearly 1 in 10 named health care, less than 1 in 10 named racism and less than 1 in 10 named law enforcement.
Trump visited Wisconsin several times in his campaign, warning supporters at an October rally that Democrats were trying to "destroy the American way of life." He emphasized his law-and-order message in an earlier Kenosha visit, after the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake there.
During his own Kensoha visit, Biden met with the Blake family and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation's economy. Overall, more than 4 in 10 described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, and nearly 6 in 10 called them not so good or poor.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 5.4% in September, below the national rate but 2 points higher than a year ago.
Amy Arntsen, 56, of Middleton, said she voted for Biden partly because she is worried about people losing their jobs during the pandemic, and is not reassured at all by a rising stock market that the president has touted.
"The rich are getting richer but . . . the poor are getting poorer," she said. "The way we value the stock market above people is corrupt."
STAYING AT HOME
Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Wisconsin, one quarter said that was because they don't like politics generally, 1 in 10 said they don't like the candidates and more than 1 in 10 said they are concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus.
In Wisconsin, 6 in 10 of nonvoters were younger than 45 and 8 in 10 did not have a college degree.
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 3,486 voters in Wisconsin 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 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast's methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.
For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. presidential elections: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020