by Bernard Condon
Voters in Minnesota made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.
The race between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden concluded Tuesday in a deeply divided nation struggling with a once-in-a-century pandemic and a severe economic downturn. AP VoteCast found that more than 3 in 10 Minnesota voters said the U.S. is on the right track and more than 6 in 10 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 132,000 voters and nonvoters — including 3,604 voters and 449 nonvoters in Minnesota — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
TRUMP VS BIDEN
Biden won Minnesota’s 10 electoral college votes, continuing a streak of Democratic presidential victories back nearly a half century.
Biden had an advantage over Trump among voters under 45. The two candidates were about even among older voters.
College-educated voters were more likely to prefer Biden. Voters without a college degree were about tied between Trump and Biden.
“I’m very much a conservative but Trump is just not what I want from a leader,” said Marty Boeckman, 57, a software engineer from Blaine who voted for Biden this time. “He doesn’t have leadership,”
Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to back Biden over Trump while voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to favor Trump.
FACING THE PANDEMIC
The coronavirus pandemic has spread through the U.S. for roughly eight months, killing more than 230,000 Americans. Overall, nearly 2 in 10 voters said the virus in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and 3 in 10 said it’s somewhat under control. Half of voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.
Biden has slammed the president for “negligence and selfishness” in his response to the coronavirus. Minnesota was hitting record new cases before the election.
Jared Vincent, a 29-year-old data analyst who voted for Biden, said he believes the former vice president will listen to the advice of experts and scientists, unlike the current president, and act more aggressively against the virus.
The virus response “has been very reactionary,” said Vincent, who lives in Minneapolis. “I probably would have voted the same way, but it made it stronger.”
Trump voter Greg Janacek, 45, of Blaine, said the government response to the pandemic could have been better but overall he is satisfied with it.
“It’s a good balance of staying open but still protecting our citizens,” he said.
ON THE ISSUES
The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Minnesota. Four in 10 it is the most important issue facing the country today.
Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with about one quarter of them saying it ranked at the top.
One in 10 named health care, and less then 1 in 10 named racism and less than 1 in 10 named climate change.
Dan Giesen, 56, of Minneapolis, said he leans conservative but he voted for Biden this time.
“People he has appointed like Bill Barr have been undermining our institutions like the Department of Justice and using them in a political manner instead of in an independent manner,” he said. “We can deal with partisan differences when our institutions and our norms are in place, but I think that those are being seriously eroded under Donald Trump.”
Minnesota voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation’s economy. Overall, 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.
Trump is hoping his embrace of the mining industry and his financial aid to farmers in a state hit hard by the China trade war will help him edge out a victory.
Biden told supporters in a speech in the Duluth area before the election that his policies would help support American manufacturing.
RACE FOR SENATE
In a race for the Senate, Democratic incumbent Tina Smith is looking to fend off a challenge from Republican Jason Lewis, a one-term former congressman who has tied his fate to Trump in his campaign. Lewis has campaigned with the president, flown on Air Force One with him and repeatedly echoed the president’s position, blasting coronavirus restrictions and supporting the president’s law-and-order stance.
Smith was preferred over Jason Lewis among voters under 45 but Smith was about even with Lewis among older voters.
Smith was preferred over Lewis among college-educated voters while voters without a college degree were divided.
Lewis led among voters in small towns and rural areas. Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to support Smith over Lewis.
STAYING AT HOME
Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Minnesota, about one-quarter said that was because they don’t like politics generally, 2 in 10 said they don’t like the candidates and 1 in 10 said they don’t know enough about the candidates’ positions.
In Minnesota, about 7 in 10 of nonvoters were younger than 45 and 8 in 10 did not have a college degree.
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Bernard Condon is a reporter for The Associated Press.
Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.
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 3,604 voters in Minnesota 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 2.1 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.