The US economy is the biggest issue for people voting today in the US election, an early exit poll has found.
It could be a good sign for Donald Trump as polls prepare to close in states across the US.
Some 32% said strong leadership was the most important quality in the candidate they voted for – with good judgement in second place with 24%.
The candidate caring about ‘people like me’ came in third on 21%, with the ability to unite the country most important to 19%.
The Economy is the sole issue on which the President has consistently polled higher than Joe Biden in the run up to the election. Some 34% of those polled said it was the most important issue to their vote.
Coronavirus came in third place in the CNN exit poll, with just 18% saying it was the biggest issue. Racial inequality came second, on 21%.
Unusually for a US election, crime and safety was the most important issue for just 11% of voters.
Some 41% said they were better off than they were four years ago – with 38% saying about the same.
But just 13% said the state of the economy in the US was ‘excellent’ – with ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ about even on 35% and 32% respectively.
Some 19% said it was ‘poor’.
And there was further indication that the economic question wasn’t necessarily an endorsement of the President.
While the nation was split on whether the Covid-19 crisis had been handled well, with 51% saying it had not – there was a bigger rift in opinion on mask wearing.
Trump has has repeatedly mocked people who wear masks, and has been reluctant to wear one himself.
But the poll showed as many as 68% of those polled saying it was a public health responsibility to wear a mask in public – with just 30% saying it was a personal choice.
Of people who voted for Donald Trump, some 81% said they had voted affirmatively for their candidate, rather than voting against his opponent.
For Biden voters, some 64% said they had voted affirmatively for the former Vice President – with 31% saying they’d voted against his opponent.
There was an increase in the number of first time voters. It was 10% in 2016, which rose to 13% this year.
Some 68% of those polled said it was “very easy” to vote this year.
And 86% said they were confident their vote would be counted.
And astonishingly few voters were ‘late deciders’ – with some 93% saying they had made up their mind before the last seven days.
Americans by the millions waited patiently to cast ballots at libraries, schools and arenas across the country today, in an orderly show of civic duty that belied the deep tensions of one of the most polarizing presidential campaigns in US history.
The face masks worn by many voters and the sight of boarded-up stores in some city centers were reminders of two big issues shaping the 2020 election, with COVID-19 still ravaging parts of the country after a summer of sometimes violence-marred protests against police brutality and racism.
While civic rights groups said they were monitoring for any signs of voter interference and law enforcement agencies were on high alert for disruption at the polls, their worst fears had not materialized by early afternoon.
In New York City, some voting lines snaked around blocks, but in many places, from Los Angeles to Detroit and Atlanta, lines were short or non-existent. Poll workers guessed this was due to an unprecedented wave of early voting. More than 100 million ballots were cast before Election Day, a new record.
Elsa Avalos, 79, was leaving a polling station on Tuesday morning after voting with her husband in Huntington Park in Southern California.
“Every election we’ve voted. We’ve done our duty,” she said.
“I was afraid we’d have a line today, but nothing.”
In Atlanta, about a dozen voters were lined up before sunrise at the Piedmont Park Conservancy. First in line was Ginnie House, shivering in the cold, waiting to cast a vote.
“I lost my absentee ballot and I’m not going to miss this vote,” said House, a 22-year-old actor and creative writing student, who had flown back to Atlanta from New York just for this purpose.
At a polling station in Houston, Texas, Andy Valadez was blowing a shofar, a trumpet used in Jewish and some Christian ceremonies. In this instance, the horn was a way to pray for a Trump victory, Valadez said.
“We want to pray for a fair election,” the 55-year-old marketing executive said, his shofar wrapped in a U.S. flag. “We believe in America and want everyone to have a safe voting experience.”