Rural voters, and more specifically farmers, powered Donald Trump to the Presidency in 2016. However, the President isn’t on the ballot come November 6, 2018. Additionally, for many voters, November 6 will be an opportunity to show their support for President Trump or lack their of. Will this group’s past support of the President also power Republican candidates in the midterm elections just days from now? This article will explore recent polling on this question and in-depth look at rural voter sentiment in the key agricultural swing states of Wisconsin and Ohio.
While Not on Ballot President Trump A Big Factor
John Herath of AgWeb recently authored a piece titled, “Farm Country Sees Midterm Election As Vote To Support Trump”. Herath conveys the results of a recent Farm Journal Pulse Poll. The poll question asked as if President Trump will have an influence on their midterm votes. The result as astonishing. 74% or nearly 3 out of every 4 poll respondent said that the President would be a factor in their vote.
Herath highlighted the disparity between those planning to vote for Republican candidates verse Democrat candidates. 62% compared to 12%, a 50% advantage to Republican supporters.
Rural voters supported President Trump by a 2:1 margin back in 2016. Seemingly, this poll appears to provide affirmative evidence to our initial question. Rural and farmer voters will power Republican candidates.
Trump Support Remains Strong in Rural America
Dan Miller of DTN/PF penned a piece titled, “The Pulse of Rural America: Survey Shows Rural Support for Republican Candidates, Trump and His Trade Policies”. This article unpacks the results of a Zogby Analytics poll. Similar to the Farm Journal Pulse Poll, and like the titled indicates, Miller highlights
[Rural America] is motivated to vote to show support for [President Trump] again in the midterm elections, just a few weeks away. The Zogby survey shows support for Republican candidates, for President Trump, himself, and for his trade policies.
Miller takes it a step further and notes that this poll’s results were similar to a poll conducted two year prior just ahead of the Presidential election.
A specific poll question was more focused around the support for the President and less so on how the President would influence the respondent’s vote in the midterms. Nevertheless, the strong preference in support of President Trump was clear, “54% to 35%”.
Additionally, 47% of respondents plan to support Republican candidates while 27% plan to support Democrat candidates. So like the Farm Journal poll this one offers a strong indication that rural and farmer voters will power Republican candidates.
What About Rural Voter Turnout?
Even if the rural vote ratio remains similar to the 2016 election, if the rural turnout is lower, its impact on the outcome will be lessened. So how powerful will this support be in the 2018 midterms? Miller offers this insight,
Voter enthusiasm in this midterm election cycle is high. When asked if they are more or less likely to vote this year compared to a presidential election year, 57.4% said they are more likely to vote this year. Only 20.7% said they are less likely to vote.
Such a response is astonishing. Midterm elections in the U.S. typically get 40% voter participation while Presidential elections typically experience 60%. If rural and farmer voters go to the polls in greater numbers than in typical in Presidential years, their impact on the 2018 midterms will be tremendous.
Radio station WVXU of Cincinnati posted a piece titled, “Elections 2018: Rural Voices On Voting, Trump, Politics”. This article explored the findings from discussions with rural Ohioans. The conversations were with attendees at a recent antique tractor and farm-equipment show at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, OH.
A number of the chosen quotes from this article reflect the sentiment from the poll results above.
A woman from Eastern Ohio, specifically Drake County, said
“I think that these midterm elections are very important. We really need to get out and vote.”
A man from Greene County, located between Columbus and Cincinnati, believes
“I think Greene County will go Republican. Donald’s the man. It’s not often that you have a president that does what he says he’s going to do.”
Another woman from Drake County indicated her likelihood of voting and her preference.
“I always vote. Trump all the way. “
In Wisconsin the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story at the end of September titled, “With Little Time To Go, Poll Paints A Harsh Landscape For The GOP In Wisconsin”. Author Craig Gilbert highlights three key points in a Marquette poll. Interestingly these highlights run counter to the story told by the polls and rural voters in Ohio.
the president’s rating with rural voters in Wisconsin is only marginally positive for the year and slightly negative since August. His job rating is slightly negative outside the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. These are regions he won decisively in 2016.
Second, the negative sentiment from groups Republicans typically lose, is getting worse.
The kinds of voters we think of as anti-Trump are anti-Trump by whopping margins. In the latest poll, the president’s approval rating is minus 29 with women (33 percent of women approve of Trump, 62 percent disapprove); minus 38 with moderates; minus 22 with college grads and minus 41 among white women with college degrees.
The challenge here is while Republicans typically do not win these groups, losing them by these kinds of margins would be a huge hurdle to overcome.
The third challenge facing Wisconsin Republican candidates according to the poll is with Independents.
Republicans have been struggling with independents for months, but their problems have only worsened in the latest poll.
Specifically the poll found Senator Baldwin (D) and gubernatorial candidate Evers (D) get positive ratings from independents. Moreover, current governor Walker (R) and Senate candidate Vukmir (R) get negative ratings, as does Trump and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Unlike the prior three source, this fourth source offers a different view about how strongly rural and farmer voters will support Republican candidates during the midterm elections.
The 2016 election reminded us all that polls are not certain to predict electoral results. Like all elections, turn out will make the biggest impact.
Overall rural and farmer voters continue to support President Trump and his party. There are strong indications that this support will continue even if the President’s name isn’t on the ballot. How much of an impact these groups will have on the midterm election outcome will come down to turn out on election day.