AP VoteCast: Trump, Biden coalitions show race, class divide

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Chester County election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 general election in the United States at West Chester University, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in West Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

WASHINGTON – Americans sorted themselves into two distinct camps in the presidential election, exposing the clear and entrenched partisan divisions that separate voters by gender, class and race.

Despite a once-in-a-century pandemic and a weakened economy, some 76% of U.S. voters said they knew all along who they would support — and they constituted the bulk of the supporters for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of the voters nationwide.

The candidates' supporters fell into familiar coalitions, with only a few groups showing significant numbers of swing voters. The divisions reflected a persistent polarization that appeared to be driven in part by voters' strong feelings about the provocative president. About two-thirds of all voters said their decision was about Trump — either for or against.

Biden amassed a sizable and diverse coalition of young, women, college-educated, urban and Black voters, groups that powered his party's 2018 midterm victories. Some 38% of his support came from voters of color.

Trump, meanwhile, marshaled his overwhelmingly white and rural supporters to turn out voters in the places that anchored his victory four years ago. He held on to 62% of white voters without a college degree, despite Biden's hopes of peeling off large numbers of them. And in some competitive states, like Nevada and Florida, Trump ate away at Biden's support among Latinos.

The candidates were locked in a close and unsettled race Wednesday, with election officials continuing to count votes in key battlegrounds. Turnout for both parties appeared to be strong as voters expressed anxiety about the country's future. Six in 10 voters — including most Biden voters and about a quarter of Trump voters — said the nation was on the wrong track.

AP VoteCast is a nationwide survey of more than 133,000 voters and nonvoters conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

The two competing coalitions aligned behind different priorities for the country, and had two diverging views on which candidate could better address those worries. More voters — both nationwide and in key battlegrounds — said the former vice president would be better able to handle the coronavirus pandemic, the top concern for 41% of voters.