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VoteCast: Virginia Voters Say Nation Headed Wrong Way

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By BILL CORMIER
Associated Press

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 three-fourths 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.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

Associated Press writer Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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