AP VoteCast: Iowa Democratic voters seek fundamental change

AP VoteCast: Iowa Democratic voters seek fundamental change
A Democratic presidential candidate speaks during a campaign event in Coralville, Iowa, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. The end of the beginning is here. After a year of political drama, the first voting contest of the 2020 primary season will be held Monday in Iowa. The kickoff caucuses will bring the first real sense of the clarity to the Democrats' presidential nomination fight. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first voters to make their choice in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination are desperate for fundamental change to the political system.

Roughly two-thirds of Iowa caucusgoers said supporting a candidate who would transform how the system in Washington works was important to their vote, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses.

That compares to about a third of caucusgoers who said it was more important to support a candidate who would restore the political system to how it was before President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

The survey also found that two issues that have been front and center during the campaign were at the top of Iowa Democrats’ minds: health care and climate change.

Here’s a snapshot of Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa — who they are and what matters to them — based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of 2,795 voters conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

A STRONG OPPONENT TO TRUMP

About 8 in 10 Iowa caucus-goers expressed anger toward the Trump administration. A minority said they were dissatisfied but not angry, or satisfied with the Republican president.

Beating Trump in November, along with providing strong leadership, outranked other qualities as most important in a nominee. More than 8 in 10 Democratic caucusgoers said it was very important the party’s nominee can defeat the incumbent president. Close to as many said they find it highly important to nominate someone who will be a strong leader.

WHAT ELSE VOTERS WANT

Three-quarters of likely caucusgoers said it’s very important their choice for the Democratic nominee cares about people like them, while nearly two-thirds said it’s very important the party’s nominee have the best policy ideas.

Six in 10 Democratic voters said it was very important the Democratic nominee will work across party lines. Fewer Democrats — about half — placed significant importance on a nominee who has the “right experience” as they considered a field that includes a former vice president, three sitting U.S. senators, two former mayors and a few with experience in business.

THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE

Health care has been at the forefront of the Democratic campaign to date, with the issue getting top billing from candidates during stump speeches, on debate nights and at town halls. And there’s a reason why: It was identified as the top issue facing the country by Iowa Democrats.

Roughly 4 in 10 likely caucusgoers identified health care as their top issue. Seven in 10 supported a proposed single-payer health care plan, which would change the health care system so that all Americans receive insurance from a government plan instead of private insurance plans.

At the same time, nearly 9 in 10 favor the proposal for an optional government plan that any Americans could buy into if they wanted.

A wide share — about 6 in 10 — expressed support for either plan, but roughly a quarter favored “Medicare for All” and opposed “Medicare for all who want it.” Only about 1 in 10 expressed the opposite opinions, in favor of a public option but opposed to a single-payer system.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Along with health care, climate change was identified as the top issue facing the country by 3 in 10 Iowa voters.

Among all caucusgoers, nearly 9 in 10 expressed support for a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels, including oil, coal and natural gas. Nearly half were strongly in favor of the proposal.

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 2,795 voters in Iowa was conducted for seven days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The survey is based on interviews with a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.