The Economy, Racial Inequality, and COVID-19 Topped Voter Minds
Despite years of verbal fireworks, charges of foreign election interference, and political warfare culminating in an impeachment trial, it’s quite likely that the inconclusive outcome of the 2020 election comes down to the events of the last eight months. Pundits and political junkies may fret over Russia, immigration policy, personal temperament, and the like, but average voters say they care most about racial inequality, the economy, and the pandemic. But—after rivers of vitriol and billions of dollars spent to sway votes—it seems Americans are most concerned about what they’ve experienced since March of this year.
First, a caveat: pollsters across the country are currently curled in the fetal position, nuzzling booze bottles as they contemplate the failings of their industry in predicting election outcomes. But exit polls ask people about what they’ve done rather than what they plan to do. And if we take the precise numbers with a grain of salt, we can at least get a read for what is on American minds.
When asked by Edison Research exit pollsters which one policy was the most important in deciding their vote for president, the three top picks were the economy (picked by 35 percent), racial inequality (picked by 20 percent), and the coronavirus pandemic (picked by 17 percent).
Of those naming the economy as their top concern, 82 percent say they voted for Donald Trump and 17 percent say they voted for Joe Biden. Of those naming racial inequality, 91 percent voted for Biden and 8 percent for Trump. Pandemic voters broke 82 percent for Biden and 14 percent for Trump. That is, Americans are as divided as everybody thinks, just not in exactly the way political junkies are.
These three issues featured prominently in people’s lives and in headlines since early this year and are thoroughly intertwined. The U.S. entered 2020 with a strong economy that had seen continuous growth for over 10 years. That trend came to a grinding halt with the spread of COVID-19 around the world, people isolating themselves, and governments imposing b
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