• Vot­ers speak out

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Cormier

A ma­jor­ity of vot­ers cast­ing midterm elec­tion bal­lots in Vir­ginia said the coun­try is headed in the wrong di­rec­tion, ac­cord­ing to a wide-rang­ing sur­vey of the Amer­i­can elec­torate.

As vot­ers cast bal­lots for U.S. Sen­ate and mem­bers of Con­gress in Tues­day’s elec­tions, AP VoteCast found that 37 per­cent of Vir­ginia vot­ers said the coun­try is on the right track, com­pared with 62 per­cent who said the coun­try is headed in the wrong di­rec­tion.

Here’s a snap­shot of who voted and why in Vir­ginia, based on pre­lim­i­nary re­sults from AP VoteCast, an in­no­va­tive na­tion­wide sur­vey of about 138,000 vot­ers and non­vot­ers — in­clud­ing 4,066 vot­ers and 702 non­vot­ers in the state of Vir­ginia — con­ducted for The As­so­ci­ated Press by NORC at the Univer­sity of Chicago.

Vir­ginia’s Sen­ate con­test

Demo­crat Sen. Tim Kaine won re-elec­tion, turn­ing back a chal­lenge by fire­brand Repub­li­can Corey Stew­art. A for­mer gov­er­nor, Kaine had en­tered the race heav­ily fa­vored against Stew­art, a con­ser­va­tive provo­ca­teur who styled him­self af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump but who re­ceived lit­tle help from na­tional Repub­li­cans and the White House dur­ing the cam­paign.

Whites with a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion pre­ferred Kaine, and whites with­out a col­lege de­gree mod­estly sup­ported Stew­art.

Kaine was pre­ferred among black vot­ers and led among His­panic vot­ers.

Vot­ers un­der 45 were more likely to fa­vor Kaine; those ages 45 and older mod­estly sup­ported Kaine.

Top is­sue: Health care

Health care was at the fore­front of vot­ers’ minds: About a third named it as the most im­por­tant is­sue fac­ing the na­tion in this year’s midterm elec­tions. Oth­ers con­sid­ered im­mi­gra­tion (2 in 10), the econ­omy (nearly 2 in 10), gun pol­icy (1 in 10) and the en­vi­ron­ment (nearly 1 in 10) the top is­sue.

An­thony Jack­son, a 26-year-old for­mer Navy cook, said he’s a Demo­crat who some­times votes for Repub­li­cans. But he said the Democrats’ po­si­tions on health care and pre­serv­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act drove him to vote for a Demo­crat in a key Vir­ginia con­gres­sional race. Of health care, he said, “I feel that should be ev­ery­one’s com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor.”

“A lot of peo­ple who can’t af­ford health care should get free health care,” Jack­son added.

State of the econ­omy

Vot­ers have a pos­i­tive view of the na­tion’s cur­rent eco­nomic out­look — 6 in 10 said the na­tion’s econ­omy is good, com­pared with about a third who said it’s not good. Doug Roberts, 62, of Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, said he voted Repub­li­can to pro­tect Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s mo­men­tum and the econ­omy. “I feel that things are go­ing pretty well over all and I want to keep it that way,” Roberts said.

Trump fac­tor

For about a third of Vir­ginia vot­ers, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was not a fac­tor they con­sid­ered while cast­ing their vote. By com­par­i­son, nearly 7 in 10 said Trump was a rea­son for their vote.

Ross Noe, a 55-year-old fi­nan­cial un­der­writer from Goochland, Vir­ginia, said he voted for Democrats in Vir­ginia’s Sen­ate race and the 7th District Con­gres­sional Con­gress over con­cerns about Trump. “I am just very afraid of some of the de­ci­sions be­ing made in Wash­ing­ton, said Noe.

Con­trol of Con­gress

Tues­day’s elec­tions will de­ter­mine con­trol of Con­gress in the fi­nal two years of Trump’s first term in of­fice, and nearly three­fourths of Vir­ginia vot­ers said which party will hold con­trol was very im­por­tant as they con­sid­ered their vote. An­other 20 per­cent said it was some­what im­por­tant.

Rich­mond-area Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, who made his­tory by up­set­ting for­mer U.S. House Ma­jor­ity Leader Eric Can­tor four years ago, faced Demo­cratic new­comer and for­mer CIA op­er­a­tive Abi­gail Span­berger, one of a record num­ber of women run­ning for Con­gress this year.

In Hamp­ton Roads, for­mer Navy SEAL and fresh­man GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tay­lor was run­ning against Demo­crat Elaine Luria, who spent 20 years on ac­tive duty in the Navy.

AP VoteCast is a sur­vey of the Amer­i­can elec­torate in all 50 states con­ducted by NORC at the Univer­sity of Chicago for The As­so­ci­ated Press and Fox News. The sur­vey of 4,066 vot­ers and 702 non­vot­ers in Vir­ginia was con­ducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, con­clud­ing as polls close on Elec­tion Day. It com­bines in­ter­views in English or Span­ish with a ran­dom sam­ple of regis­tered vot­ers drawn from state voter files and self-iden­ti­fied regis­tered vot­ers se­lected from opt-in on­line pan­els. Par­tic­i­pants in the prob­a­bil­ity-based por­tion of the sur­vey were con­tacted by phone and mail, and had the op­por­tu­nity to take the sur­vey by phone or on­line. The mar­gin of sam­pling er­ror for vot­ers is es­ti­mated to be plus or mi­nus 1.9 per­cent­age points. All sur­veys are sub­ject to mul­ti­ple sources of er­ror, in­clud­ing from sam­pling, ques­tion word­ing and or­der, and non­re­sponse. Find more de­tails about AP VoteCast’s method­ol­ogy at http://www. ap.org/votecast.

[STEVE EARLEY/THE VIRGINIAN-PI­LOT VIA AP]

Donna An­der­son lets peo­ple know she voted at Col­lege Park El­e­men­tary School in Vir­ginia Beach, Va., on Tues­day, Nov. 6, 2018.

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