Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ethanol, economy weaken McCain's rural base

"Democrats may have finally found a wedge issue to pry away some rural voters from the Republican Party: ethanol," writes Philip Brasher of The Des Moines Register, citing veteran legislator, farmer and John McCain supporter Ralph Klemme of strongly Republican northwest Iowa. "Klemme believes McCain may well lose the state this time because of his opposition to federal ethanol policy." President Bush lost Iowa in 2000 but won it in 2004.

In Pennsylvania, a state with many more electoral votes, John Guerriero of the Erie Times-News quotes area political scientists as saying that Barack Obama could do better than recent Democratic nominees with rural voters because of economic turmoil. "Rural areas tend to lean Republican and conservative," he writes, "But with shake-ups on Wall Street and a proposed $700 billion government bailout, this is no ordinary election year."

Citing Robert Speel, associate political science professor at Penn State Behrend, Guerriero writes that even if McCain wins the rural vote by 20 percentage points, as Bush did, that "won't be enough if Obama succeeds in his strategy to increase voter turnout in urban areas and grab a bigger share of the suburban vote." (Read more)

On the ethanol front, "Obama is trying to take advantage with some aggressive outreach recently to farm groups," Brasher reports. "Six former presidents of the National Corn Growers Association, including five who served from 2001 to 2006, recently signed a letter endorsing Obama. The association itself hasn't endorsed either candidate." One of the signers is from Ohio, "a must-win state for McCain." (Read more) Brasher's story, apparently written Friday, doesn't note that in Friday night's debate McCain voluntarily reiterated his opposition to the federal tax credit for ethanol. For our debate story, click here.

1 comment:

Dee Vaughan said...

As a past president of the National Corn Growers Association I have worked for many years on farm and renewable fuel policy. I continue to work today on these and other farm issues at the state corn grower level and within other farm organizations. In talking with farmers from many regions of the U.S. over the past couple of years it is obvious that there is a lot of pent up frustration with the current administration over the 2008 farm bill. Consistently they used statistics in such a way as to mislead the public and media about the nature of farm program payments. The Bush administration also fought every piece of farm policy in its second term that involved program or disaster payments. Now Senator McCain comes along and says he will not only continue this pattern but will also work to eliminate the incentives for renewable fuels. This would be a disaster for farmers, rural America, and America as a whole. It would destroy the rural economy and make us even more dependent on foreign oil.
I am personally supporting Senator Obama because I believe we have to have someone that will offer new ideas for our economy and health care but also will stand up for agriculture and rural communities. I think many producers will make the same decision.
Dee Vaughan
deevaughan@gmail.com