As the U.S. presidential election went into a second day of vote-counting on Nov. 4, the Washington Post revealed the coronavirus pandemic was not the top priority for many voters, according to the exit polls it conducted.
While the pandemic has altered American life greatly since March, more voters expressed concern over an economy that has also been greatly altered by the pandemic.
According to the exit polls, about 4 in 10 voters placed priority on reviving the economy over efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Approximately 1 in 3 of the voters surveyed was primarily motivated by the economy. Unsurprisingly, that view was prevalent among those who supported Donald Trump; 6 in 10 who backed the president called the economy their top priority.
The Post also noted that “public health experts warned that the outcome of the election was unlikely to change the trajectory of the difficult weeks and months ahead.” It cited an increase in coronavirus cases in battleground states where Trump ultimately triumphed over Democratic challenger Joe Biden, like Florida, Iowa, and Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania—a key, still-undecided state for both candidates.
The New York Times conducted similar polling, finding that while coronavirus was a top issue for many voters, those voters were more likely to back Biden. It characterized the debate between containing coronavirus and rebuilding the economy, according to its exit polls, as falling “along starkly partisan lines.”
In total, 17% of Biden voters called the pandemic the top issue in the campaign, compared to 35% who cited the economy as the principal issue. Racial inequity was cited as the top issue for those voters.
Those who expressed the most concern about the coronavirus favored Biden 82-14 vs. those most concerned about the economy who pulled 82-17 for Trump.
Perceptions about the Trump administration’s management of the pandemic also corresponded to partisan divides. As the Times reported, “Roughly four in five Trump supporters called it at least somewhat under control, while as many Biden voters said it was ‘not at all under control.’”
Exit polls showed an even sharper divide on the question of “Who would better handle the coronavirus pandemic?” Biden voters thought Biden was better suited for it by a 92-5 margin, while Trump voters went 93-7 for Trump. In a previously released poll, Americans said they trusted Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, more than Trump. Meanwhile, since losing the election, Trump has done almost nothing to help with the pandemic.