A new nationwide poll of rural voters shows Donald Trump with a 53% approval rating, which is good news for the president as he tries to shore up his base of support with just a week to go before Election Day.
The poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics for the website DTNPF, also reveals that the right to keep and bear arms is one of the top issues for rural respondents.
As rural adults vote, three issues most influence them in local, state and national elections in 2020. Sixty-two percent said the strength of the economy is most important, 48% said health care and 39% said gun rights/protection of the Second Amendment.
The economy is especially prioritized by Republicans (74% considered 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% considered it important, compared to 27% overall).
Rural Americans are divided when asked whether the country is heading in the right direction. Forty-three percent strongly agreed or somewhat agreed the country is headed in the right direction. But 51% strongly or somewhat strongly disagreed.
Farmers and ranchers told DTN/Progressive Farmer and Zogby that Trump’s focus on agriculture has improved their farming and ranching financial outlook (57%) and that the 2018 Farm Bill has provided an adequate safety net for their operation (57%).
Now, a couple of caveats here. Polling is an art, not a science, so treat every poll with as much suspicion as you’d like. In this case, the poll is of “adults,” not registered voters or likely voters. Typically, Republican candidates improve when likely voter screens are used in polling, so it’s likely that Trump will get more than 53% of the rural vote on Election Day. According to the Zogby/DTNPF poll, Trump is leading Biden 50-33 among rural adults, with about 11% still undecided. While those numbers are strong, they’re also down a bit from 2016.
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.
I know in rural central Virginia it’s not uncommon to see a piece of farm equipment parked in a field with a banner emblazoned “Farmers for Trump” on the side, and the Trump signs easily outnumber the Biden signs 2-to-1 where I live. I am definitely seeing more signs for Biden than I saw for Hillary Clinton four years ago, but I’m also seeing more Trump signs as well, which points (anecdotally, at least) to signs of a higher turnout than we saw in 2016.
I’m also not surprised to see that the Second Amendment/gun control ranks as one of the top issues for rural voters in the Zogby/DTNPF poll. While the media has been mostly silent on Biden’s gun control plans, many gun owners understand that under a Biden/Harris administration we’re likely to see the most ant-gun agenda in American history put into place; including banning commonly-owned firearms and ammunition magazines, making it illegal to purchase ammunition and gun parts online, and trying to impose subjective and restrictive gun licensing laws at the state level, just to name a few of Biden’s top priorities when it comes to legal gun ownership.
I’d love to see a poll that focused more on likely voters in battleground states, as opposed to a nationwide survey of adults, but the Zogby/DTNPF poll does offer up at least a general idea of where rural voters stand, and it looks like a solid majority are standing with Donald Trump in this year’s election.