Tuesday, September 29, 2020

New poll shows Trump with a large rural lead over Biden, but a closer race than four years ago

Half of rural voters plan to cast ballots for President Trump, according to a new poll by DTN/The Progressive Farmer and Zogby Analytics. That's a 17-point lead over Democratic challenger Joe Biden, whom 33% said they would vote for. Eleven percent of respondents said they are undecided, Dan Miller reports for DTN. 

In 2016, Trump led Hillary Clinton 46% to 24% in a similar survey by the same pollsters. Now, Trump has a smaller lead and a lower share of committed voters than last time, and Biden has a higher share of committed voters than Clinton did.

Other findings from the poll:

  • The three top issues that rural voters said will affect how they vote in local, state, and national elections are the economy (62%), health care (48%), and protection of Second Amendment rights (39%).
  • The economy is especially important to Republicans (74% said it was an important issue) and Southerners (67%).
  • Rural Democrats are the only demographic who said health care is significantly more important than other issues affecting their votes, with 64% saying it was the top issue.
  • Similarly, rural Democrats are the only demographic that rated climate change as one of their top issues; 48% said it was important, compared to 27% of respondents overall.
  • 53% of respondents said they approve of Trump's performance as president, including his handling of the pandemic.
  • 42% of respondents strongly or somewhat disapprove of Trump's job performance.
  • Support for Trump is highest in the politically important Central Great Lakes region, where he enjoys support from 55% of rural voters, 60% of seniors age 65 and over, and 57% of married rural adults.
  • 59% of farmers in the poll said their operations would be struggling financially if not for direct federal aid through USDA's Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
  • 57% of farmers said Trump's focus on agriculture policy has improved their farming and/or ranching financial outlook, and that the 2018 Farm Bill has provided an adequate safety net for their operation.
  • 56% of farmers said Trump's emphasis on trade negotiations with China and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement has led to higher income potential for their farming operation.
  • 54% of farmers said that environmental rules and regulations have not hurt their ability to manage their operation.
  • 54% of farmers said that farming has been profitable over the past four years.
  • 39% of rural adults said agriculture is worse off than it was in 2016, 23% said it's better off today, 22% of rural adults said it's about the same, and 17% were undecided.
  • 67% of Democratic respondents said agriculture is worse off than four years ago.
  • 40% of Republican respondents said agriculture is better off than four years ago.
  • Almost 40% of those in the East, Great Lakes, and Western states said agriculture is worse off than four years ago, compared to about 33% of respondents in the South.
The poll only sought responses from rural residents; see the end of Miller's article for a demographic and geographic breakdown of responses.

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