AP VoteCast: Electability boosts Biden, Sanders falls short

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Copyright 2020. The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A voter rushes to the polls in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020, as people participate in the Republican and Democratic party primaries statewide. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joe Biden went into Tuesday’s primaries riding a wave of voter confidence about his chances of victory in November — and that propelled him to wins in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi.

Democratic primary voters in those states were more likely to think the former vice president could defeat President Donald Trump in the general election, compared with Biden's top rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to AP VoteCast surveys of voters.

The Associated Press also called Biden the winner in Idaho. Sanders won the caucuses in North Dakota. Washington remains too early to call.

The surveys showed Biden built a coalition that crossed the spectrum of Democrats in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi. African Americans and older voters continued to be a reliable foundation of support for Biden. He also drew support from blue-collar workers, rural voters, city dwellers, women, the highly educated, moderates, conservatives and even the “somewhat liberal," according to AP VoteCast.

Sanders, meanwhile, preserved his strength with voters younger than 30 and those who consider themselves “very liberal." But he failed in his push to drive up turnout among those groups and couldn't overcome the concerns of moderate and conservative Democrats who are focused first and foremost on expelling Trump from the White House.

AP VoteCast surveys are designed to capture voters' views regardless of when or how they voted, accounting for the many voters in Michigan and other states who voted early. Here's a look at voters' opinions as they cast their ballots in half of the six contests on Tuesday.

ELECTABILITY

Voters generally view Biden as the better match against Trump. About 80% in Michigan and Missouri believe Biden could beat the incumbent, while roughly 90% in Mississippi feel that way. Just about 60% of voters in Missouri and Mississippi, and 65% of voters in Michigan, think Sanders would be likely to defeat the incumbent president.