Several polls have recently been released sensationalizing the drop in support for President Trump by U.S. farmers. The polls ask a basic question, if the election where held today, would you vote for President Trump? Based on the headlines you would think farmers are running away from the President. But in fact a majority still answer the question with a ‘Yes’. This post will explore the findings of two polls and reveal the ultimate secret about today’s support for the President.
Farm Futures Poll
Bryce Knorr of Farm Futures wrote a piece in titled, “Trade Dents Farm Support for Trump”. Knorr opens by highlighting the significant support growers gave to the President in November of 2016. 75% of growers voted for Trump, an astonishing number. The “dent” Knorr notes in his title is that only 60% of growers would support the president today. The poll was conducted from 7/20 – 8/2 with 924 participants.
Not surprisingly, trade does appear to be the area of concern for growers. A review of recent Ag Nook headlines around the survey timeframe makes this easy to understand.
Aug 3 – Trade on the Brain
Only 8% of all growers voiced support for the president’s statement that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” with 40% believing “President Trump’s actions on trade have done permanent damage to agriculture.” Only 14% said tariffs will be good for their farm’s profits.
Of course between July 20 and August 2nd, the dates of the survey, there was a huge announcement by the Trump administration. On July 25th the Trump administration announced it was going to provide $12 billion in trade relief to farmers, effectively, “Making It Rain“. Without the details fully defined or communicated (and still waiting) during the course of the survey, its likely the impact of such an announcement isn’t reflected in the Farm Futures poll results.
Farm Journal Poll
A similar question was asked by a Farm Journal poll in a survey conducted on the week of August 6th of 2300 farmers. In a piece posted on AgWeb.com titled, “Farmers Helped Elect Trump, But Trade Wars Erode Their Support”, author Anna-Lisa Laca trumpets a similar tune.
Almost 70% of farmers voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, yet the latest Farm Journal Research survey shows only 56% would vote for him again.
On the face of it, this percentage is surprisingly lower than Farm Futures’ poll number as the survey was conducted after the trade aid announcement. Of course the plan details weren’t known, and there isn’t cash burning a hole in farmer’s pockets, yet.
An interesting difference between the two polls is the support among younger farmers. In the Farm Journal poll Laca states:
Young farmers are much more bullish on Trump than older farmers: 61% of farmers under 45 years old favor Trump versus only 40% of farmers 65+ years old.
The Farm Futures poll noted a similar decline of support between older and younger growers.
Rural Voters Support Trump
CNBC’s Jeff Daniels picked up the Farm Journal poll story in a piece with this headline: “Trump Support Dips Among Farmers as Trade War Wallops Agriculture”. Daniels cites a third poll, this one by Morning Consult that revealed quite an interesting nugget.
Trump support has remained intact or improved among rural voters. It found support was up in Iowa among rural voters despite the state being a large producer of some key commodities hit by new duties, including pork and soybeans.
The question to be answered is will this support continue post-harvest, when the economic impact of depressed ag commodity prices from trade tariffs hits the broader rural community?
Ultimate Secret of Trump’s Support
The ultimate secret of Trump’s support by farmers and the broader rural farm communities is this. The next time President Trump’s name appears on a ballot will be November of 2020! By and large, Trump remains very popular among these groups. When the trade aid hits the pockets and farm communities, this support won’t decline. A blue wave may occur this fall, but don’t be fooled by how this will impact Trump’s chances for re-election in 2020. President Obama described the historical red wave of the 2010 election cycle as a “shellacking“. Two years later he cruised to a reelection victory.
Several polls have noted small declines in farmer support for President Trump, primarily over the issue of trade. However, broader rural farm community support hasn’t wavered and possibly has strengthened. Trade aid hitting the pockets and farm communities ahead of the November elections won’t cause this support to decline. Moreover, the President’s name won’t be on the ballot for another two years. History tells us this is an eternity in politics.