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Exit polls showed the vote went to the pandemic over the economy

As the country faces a double national crisis – a months-long pandemic and economic devastation – voters were deeply divided over what mattered most: containing the coronavirus or scrambling to rebuild the economy, according to early polls release and election polls released Tuesday.

Their opinion on what was more important fell along completely partisan lines, with those who saw the pandemic as the most pressing issue favoring Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president, while those who named the economy and the Jobs overwhelmingly opposed President Trump’s re-election. .

Reflecting pervasive pessimism, nearly two-thirds of voters said they believed the country was headed in the wrong direction, according to an Associated Press survey of those who voted – and those voters overwhelmingly picked Mr. Biden. And although Mr Trump tried to focus the campaign on something other than the pandemic, it remained a defining problem: more than four in 10 voters said it was the most important problem the country faced, far more than any other problem.

A separate survey – the traditional exit poll, conducted by Edison Research – asked the question differently; He found that, as important as it was to them, only one in five voters saw the virus as the main problem affecting their vote. More said the economy was, and a similar share said racial inequality decided their vote.

The overwhelming majority of Trump supporters rated the economy as excellent or good, while an equal proportion of Biden supporters said it was doing badly.

Opinions about the virus were also tied to politics: around four in five Trump supporters called him at least somewhat under control, while many Biden voters said he was “not dubious.” everything under control ”.

Those who reported that the pandemic had taken personal havoc tended to support Mr Biden. More than a third of all voters said they or a member of their household had lost a job or income in the past eight months, and most of those voters were in favor of Mr Biden.

Those who did not vote in 2016, a group that the Trump campaign says would be key to re-election, appeared to be running in large numbers – but they were mostly found to be opposed to him. New voters appeared to favor Mr. Biden by wide margins.

Far fewer said they knew someone who had died from the virus, but among those who did, the vast majority chose the former vice president.

Moderate voters also tipped heavily for Mr. Biden, in a tacit rejection of the “radical” label Mr. Trump had sought to pin on him. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Trump has alienated the moderates with his rhetoric and has never been viewed favorably by most independent voters.

It was these voters in the center that Mr. Biden had most aggressively targeted, using a message of unity and American tradition to offer voters respite from the bombing of the current president and to push back the portrayal of the Democrat by the Trump campaign. a left tool.

For the first time, not one but two scientifically sound, probability-based election polls were conducted during the election. The polls at Edison’s exit, on behalf of a consortium of news organizations, were conducted by telephone with voters who had voted early and through in-person interviews at polling stations.

The Associated Press also conducted its own voter survey, called VoteCast, using an online respondent panel assembled by NORC, a research group based at the University of Chicago.

The general trends in results were consistent between the surveys of the two organizations, although exit polls seem to show Mr. Trump is performing strongly in more states than the VoteCast investigation. The two surveys also asked different questions of their respondents; the results of both are mentioned in this article.

Unlike four years ago, a very small proportion of single-digit voters said they had made a decision in the past few days, according to exit polls. Four years ago, 13% said they made a decision last week, according to polls.

Pre-election polls throughout this election season showed that about four in five voters held strong opinions about Mr. Trump and his leadership, and strong feelings on both sides continued to define this year’s election.

Of those voters who voted for him four years ago, around nine in ten supported him again. But Mr Biden retained an even stronger share of Hillary Clinton supporters in 2016.

Among white voters, there were sharp divisions based on gender and education. As Mr. Trump looked set to reiterate his resounding 2016 victory among white voters without a college degree, Mr. Biden led among white voters with a college education.

This group was one of many – including commuters and political independents – that Mr. Trump narrowly won against Ms. Clinton, but whose support he had long lost.

In some key states, Mr Biden appeared not to have received Hillary Clinton’s support four years ago among Latino voters, especially men. In Florida, the exit poll put his lead in single digits with Hispanic voters, and in Texas, he was winning just three in five.

But elsewhere, his margin among Hispanic voters was much higher, and across the country he edged the president more than two to one.

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