March 17, 2020 / 11:34 PM / 24 days ago

POLL-A majority of Democrats look to Biden, not Sanders, during a crisis

NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - Most voters in Democratic presidential primaries in Illinois, Florida and Arizona said they trusted Joe Biden to handle a major crisis more than Bernie Sanders, according to Edison Research, as many lined up on Tuesday to vote despite the coronavirus crisis.

The findings could point to another strong showing for the former vice president and Democratic front-runner as the rapid spread of the coronavirus led election authorities in a handful of other states to postpone nominating contests to find a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

Ohio, which was scheduled to vote on Tuesday, and several other states pushed back their primaries because of the rapid spread of the virus, which has infected more than 5,890 people in the United States and killed at least 97.

Americans are much more worried about the virus than they were just two weeks ago, according to a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll, as schools and businesses closed across the country in an effort to slow down infections.

Edison, which conducted telephone interviews before the primaries of early voters and others who planned to vote, also found that nine of the Democratic primary voters in Illinois said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are other highlights from Edison’s telephone polls in Illinois, Florida and Arizona. The proportions may change as more polling is conducted and votes are tallied.

** Seven of 10 Democratic primary voters in Florida said they trusted Biden more than Sanders to handle a major crisis. Six out of 10 in both Arizona and Illinois answered the same way.

** Half of the Democratic primary voters in Florida and Illinois think the U.S. economy needs “a complete overhaul.”

** Six out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Florida, Arizona and Illinois said they supported Medicare for all, a healthcare proposal that would replace private insurance with a government-run plan. Sanders has long embraced the proposal, and a majority of voters in the party’s 2020 presidential contest appear to support it as well.

** Nine out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Arizona and Florida said they would support the party’s nominee regardless of who it is. The finding suggests that neither Biden nor Sanders would have trouble uniting the party.

** Half of the voters in Florida’s Democratic primary said they felt that Sanders was “too liberal,” while two out of 10 said they felt Biden was “not liberal enough.”

Edison compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters.

Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Dan Burns and Peter Cooney

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