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Pulse of Rural America Poll
By Dan Miller
Tuesday, September 29, 2020 1:46PM CDT

A new 2020 DTN/Progressive Farmer Zogby Analytics Pulse of Rural America poll finds 50% of rural adults intend to vote for President Donald Trump on Election Day, Nov. 3; that's a lead of 17 percentage points over Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. Eleven percent of rural adults are undecided.

In a similar DTN/Progressive Farmer Pulse of Rural America poll in 2016, Trump was leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton 46% to 24%.

But the rural voting community is a mixed bag for the president in 2020. Fifty-three percent of rural adult Americans approve of Donald Trump's performance as president, including his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Forty-two percent of rural residents and farmers strongly or somewhat disapprove of the president's job performance.

Fifty-nine percent of responding farmers told DTN/Progressive Farmer their operations would be struggling financially if it were not for USDA's Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Fifty-seven percent of farmers say both that the president's focus on agriculture has improved their farming and ranching financial outlook and that the 2018 farm bill has provided an adequate safety net for their operation. The president's emphasis on trade negotiations with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has led to higher income potential for farm operation (56% agree), that environmental rules and regulations have not negatively affected their ability to manage their operation (54% agree) and that farming has been a profitable business over the past four years (54% agree).

Yet despite those upbeat numbers, more rural adults (39%) told DTN/Progressive Farmer that agriculture is worse off than it was four years ago. Twenty-three percent say agriculture is better off today than four years ago. Twenty-two percent rate agriculture as the same over four years ago. Seventeen percent are undecided.

Sixty-seven percent of those identifying as Democrats say agriculture is worse off than four years ago. Nearly 40% of respondents in the East, Great Lakes and Western states agree agriculture is worse off today than four years ago. A third in the South also agree.

Republicans are more positive about the state of agriculture (40% think that it is better off than four years ago).

Support for the president is strongest in the critical Central Great Lakes region of the U.S. (55% of rural adults support him), among those 65 years of age and older (60% support him) and married rural adults (57%).

In step with the president's polling numbers, rural Americans tell DTN/Progressive Farmer they favor Republicans over Democrats in congressional races. Forty-nine percent of rural residents say they will vote for Republicans in congressional races. Thirty-one percent favor Democratic candidates.

There are three issues that will most influence the way rural adults will vote in local, state and national elections in 2020. Sixty-two percent tell DTN/Progressive Farmer the strength of the economy is most important to them, 48% say health care and 39% say protection of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms will steer their vote. The economy is especially prioritized by Republicans (74% consider it an important issue) and Southern adults (67%).

Health care (64%) is the top issue for rural Democrats, the only adult demographic group where health care has a significant edge over other issues. Rural Democrats are also the only demographic group where climate change is one of their top issues (48% consider it important, compared to 27% overall).

The 2020 DTN/Progressive Farmer Zogby Analytics Pulse of Rural America poll survey includes 1,008 adults living in rural counties and 120 completed surveys from the Progressive Farmer subscriber list. The survey's margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points. Twenty-nine percent of respondents farm or have members of their families who farm. Forty percent identify as Republicans, 23% as Democrats and 36% as Independents. The majority of respondents are under 54 years old; 80% are white; 11% are Hispanic. Fifty-five percent are married. Respondents are evenly split between male and female. Responses came most frequently from the Great Lakes region (37% of the total), from the South (27%) and from the West (22%).

Dan Miller can be reached at dan.miller@dtn.com

Follow him on twitter @DMillerPF

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