March 10, 2020 / 11:20 PM / 18 days ago

POLL-More voters in Tuesday's Democratic primaries trust Biden than Sanders in major crisis - exit poll

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - A majority of voters in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential nominating contests said Joe Biden was the candidate they trust most to handle a major crisis, according to Edison Research exit polling, a sentiment that may be weighing heavily as coronavirus cases spread across the country.

The flu-like illness has killed at least 28 people in the United States and infected nearly 1,000 people, with nearly three-quarters of the 50 U.S. states reporting cases. Its swift spread across the globe has forced many school closures, event cancellations and cutbacks in business travel.

Stocks suffered their biggest one-day drop since the 2008 financial crisis before recovering somewhat on Tuesday.

Edison, which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters, found that when it comes to confronting a major crisis, five out of 10 voters in Michigan and Washington state and 6 in 10 in Missouri said they trusted Biden, the former vice president.

In comparison, about three in 10 Democratic primary voters in each of those states said they trusted Sanders more than Biden.

Here are other highlights from Edison’s exit polling in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Washington. Edison did not conduct voter surveys in Idaho or North Dakota, which also held nominating contests on Tuesday.

The proportions may change as more polling is conducted and votes are tallied.

** Four out of 10 voters in the Washington state Democratic primary say they are ‘very concerned’ about the coronavirus outbreak; another 4 of 10 are ‘somewhat concerned’. Washington has been the hardest hit by the health crisis of any state, with 24 deaths, nearly all of them in the greater Seattle area.

** Neither Sanders nor Biden can claim that they have the more energized supporters. Four out of 10 voters in the Washington state Democratic primary said they would be ‘enthusiastic’ if Biden wins the nomination while four of 10 said they would feel the same way if Sanders wins. In Missouri, five out of 10 voters said they would be ‘enthusiastic’ if Biden wins the nomination versus three of 10 who would feel the same if Sanders wins. And in Michigan, three out of 10 Democratic primary voters said they would be ‘enthusiastic’ if Biden wins the nomination while four of 10 said the same if Sanders wins.

** Most Democratic primary voters say they will line up behind the party’s nominee regardless of who it is. That includes nine out of 10 voters in Washington and eight out of 10 voters in Michigan and Missouri.

** Only a small minority of Democratic primary voters said they would be “upset” if either Sanders or Biden won the nomination. One out of 10 voters in Washington and Michigan said they would be ‘upset’ if Biden won the nomination, while two of 10 said they would feel the same if Sanders wins.

** Three out of 10 Democratic primary voters in Michigan said they made up their minds in last few days, compared with two of 10 in Missouri and Mississippi.

** Healthcare was by far the top issue in each of the states surveyed on Tuesday. Five out of 10 in Michigan and Missouri named healthcare as a bigger concern than climate change, race relations or income inequality. Healthcare also was the top issue for four of 10 Democratic primary voters in Mississippi and Washington state.

** Among voters naming healthcare their top issue, a majority backed Biden in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri; a plurality backed Biden in Washington state.

Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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