(AP) – Most voters casting ballots in Michigan’s presidential and U.S. Senate election 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 turned upside down by a global pandemic and economic downturn, AP VoteCast found that 2 in 5 of Michigan voters said the U.S. is on the right track and 3 in 5 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 — including 3,571 voters and 955 nonvoters in Michigan — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
RACE FOR PRESIDENT
Biden fought hard to try to take back Michigan after Trump four years ago became the first Republican to carry the state in 28 years.
College-educated voters were more likely to back Biden. Biden was about tied with Trump among voters without a college degree.
Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to prefer Biden over Trump but Trump had an advantage among voters in small towns and rural areas.
The former vice president’s strategy was built around winning big in the state’s suburbs, especially among women. He also sought to make inroads with older voters who disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump was counting on a huge turnout in rural and small-town places where he also dominated four years ago.
Biden had an advantage over Trump among voters under 45 while Biden was roughly even with Trump among older voters.
“I just didn’t like how things are going in the last four years and I hope to change things in the next four years,” said Latic Chambers, 32, the owner of a disinfectant business in Detroit who voted for Biden.
Biden’s campaign worked to solidify its support among Black voters by reaching out to pastors, women, and political activists in the Black community.
Black voters were more likely to prefer Biden but Trump was preferred among white voters.
RACE FOR SENATE
In the state’s first competitive Senate contest in 20 years, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, a first-term incumbent, was up against Republican challenger John James, a business executive, and combat veteran.
Peters led James among voters under 45 while older voters were split.
Black voters were more likely to support Peters over James but white voters were more likely to back James over Peters.
Peters had an apparent advantage over James among voters without a college degree. College-educated voters were more likely to favor Peters.
Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to support Peters while James was preferred over Peters among voters in small towns and rural areas.
Both parties poured millions into the race. James, who is Black, sought to appeal to Black voters disillusioned with Democrats. Former President Barack Obama appeared in an ad for Peters, crediting the Democrat for working to save the auto industry and protect the Great Lakes.
FACING THE PANDEMIC
Biden seized on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, calling him “reckless” during stops in Michigan, one of the hardest hit states during the early stages of the pandemic. More than 7,500 have died from the virus across the state.
Overall, about 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. Roughly half think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country.
“We’re not doing as well as we could have been, with all the resources this country has. So yeah, that definitely impacted my vote,” said Georgia Richardson-Smaller of Ann Arbor, a 19-year-old student who voted for Biden.
Trump warned that Biden would keep Michigan “locked up” during the coronavirus pandemic. Early in the pandemic, he cheered on protesters who opposed Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s virus restrictions, tweeting “Liberate Michigan!”
“Everybody should continue to wear a mask and play it safe, but I think that we should also move forward with the world,” said Cynthia Baird, 63, of Howell, who voted for Trump.
Michigan voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation’s economy. Overall, about 2 in 5 described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, while about 3 in 5 called them not so good or poor.
ON THE ISSUES
The coronavirus pandemic was the top issue for 2 in 5 voters in Michigan. About a quarter cited the economy while 1 in 10 said it was health care.
Trump has handled all of the big issues well, said Adam Baker, 59, of West Bloomfield, who works in real estate.
“He exceeded every expectation,” said Baker, who voted for the president. “The economy. National security. The rule of law. Our allies, his stance on Israel and a return to normalcy.”
STAYING AT HOME
Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Michigan, a quarter said that was because they don’t like the candidates, 2 in 5 said they don’t like politics generally and 1 in 10 said their vote doesn’t matter.
In Michigan, two-thirds of nonvoters were younger than 45 and a large share did not have a college degree.
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