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Aug. 1, 2021

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AP VoteCast: South Carolina voters prioritize health care

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WASHINGTON — Voters in Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary election in South Carolina called health care the top issue facing the country today, clearly naming it as more important than the economy, climate change, immigration, race relations and guns.

That’s a change from Iowa and New Hampshire, where Democrats put climate change alongside health care as the top issue facing the country — far above all others.

About 4 in 10 voters on Saturday picked health care as the top issue, according to a wide-ranging AP VoteCast survey of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina. Twenty-one percent said the economy and jobs are the most important, while 14 percent of voters identified climate change. Roughly 1 in 10 called out race relations.

The AP VoteCast survey also found that a smaller share of Democratic voters in South Carolina than in Iowa and New Hampshire said it was more important to support a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works than one who would restore the political system to how it was before President Donald Trump took office. Forty-five percent said they’d prefer a return to the Obama era.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic voters in South Carolina based on a survey of 1,499 voters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

WHAT VOTERS WANT: Close to 9 in 10 Democratic voters in South Carolina said a strong leader is a very important quality in a Democratic presidential nominee, while being able to beat Trump and caring for people like them followed close behind.

DIVIDED BY RACE: African American voters went for former Vice President Joe Biden over any other candidate by a significant margin. Six in 10 supported him, compared with 15 percent supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

DIVIDED BY AGE: As in Iowa and New Hampshire, young voters were especially likely to support Sanders, while those older were more likely to prefer Biden.

About half of voters under 30 supported Sanders; more than half of voters 45 and older chose Biden.

DIVIDED BY GENDER: Overall, Biden held a significant advantage among women, while that edge narrowed somewhat among men.

But men under 45 were somewhat more likely to support Sanders than Biden. Young women showed similar support for the two.

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