A majority of Democrats look to Biden, not Sanders, during a crisis: poll


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most voters in Democratic presidential primaries in Illinois, Florida and Arizona said they trusted Joe Biden to handle a major crisis more than Bernie Sanders, according to Edison Research, as many lined up on Tuesday to vote despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Biden swept all three states and strengthened his bid for the party’s nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

Ohio, which was scheduled to vote on Tuesday, and several other states pushed back their primaries because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which has infected more than 6,400 people in the United States and killed at least 108.

Americans are much more worried about the virus than they were just two weeks ago, according to a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll, as schools and businesses closed across the country in an effort to slow down infections.

Yet Edison estimated that 1.85 million people voted in Florida’s Democratic primary, which would be higher than the number who participated in the state’s 2016 or 2008 Democratic primary.

Here are other highlights from Edison’s telephone polls in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, which were conducted before the primaries with early voters and others who planned to vote. The proportions may change as more votes are tallied.

– Seven of 10 Democratic primary voters in Florida said they trusted Biden more than Sanders to handle a major crisis. Six out of 10 in both Arizona and Illinois answered the same way.

– Nine out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Illinois said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

– The only major demographic that Sanders won were voters under the age of 44. About five in 10 of voters in Florida who were under 44 said they backed Sanders. In Illinois and Arizona, Sanders won seven out of 10 voters under 44 years old.

– Biden and Sanders appeared to split the Hispanic vote in Arizona. Among those who identified as Hispanics, about five out of 10 said they backed Biden, while four out of 10 supported Sanders.

– About three in 10 Democratic primary voters in Illinois said they would be “enthusiastic” if Biden won the nomination. About four in 10 said they would be “enthusiastic” if Sanders became the party’s nominee.

– Half of the Democratic primary voters in Florida and Illinois think the U.S. economy needs “a complete overhaul.”

– Six out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Florida, Arizona and Illinois said they supported Medicare for all, a healthcare proposal that would replace private insurance with a government-run plan. Sanders has long embraced the proposal, and a majority of voters in the party’s 2020 presidential contest appear to support it as well.

– In Florida, Biden won the support of about five in 10 of voters who also supported Medicare for All, suggesting that many were still drawn to support Biden despite their agreement with Sanders on his signature issue.

– Nine out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Arizona and Florida said they would support the party’s nominee regardless of who it is. The finding suggests that neither Biden nor Sanders would have trouble uniting the party.

– Half of the voters in Florida’s Democratic primary said they felt that Sanders was “too liberal,” while two out of 10 said they felt Biden was “not liberal enough.”

Edison compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters. It gathered responses before the Tuesday primaries from people who said they were definitely voting, including 800 in Florida, 611 in Arizona and 600 in Illinois.

Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Dan Burns, Peter Cooney and Sonya Hepinstall