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Rural election results mirror polls

2012_1113_RuralVoteGraph
The Republicans have held an advantage among rural voters in every presidential vote this century. A very large Romney advantage in October among rural voters in nine swing states, according to a National Rural Assembly poll, was shaved a bit by the time the final votes were tallied. (Daily Yonder/Center for Rural Strategies)


The results of the presidential election in rural America mirrored polls and surveys taken before November 6 that give some insight into the rural vote.

On October 16, the Center for Rural Strategies released a survey that showed that rural, swing-state voters said they preferred Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Democratic President Barack Obama by a 22-point margin, 59 percent to 37 percent.

While Romney’s actual rural vote in the swing states dropped to 55.3 percent, the poll showed a clear trend.

In a similar poll from mid-September, conducted before the first presidential debate, Romney led Obama among rural voters in swing states by 14 points, 54 percent to 40 percent.

Those polls questioned 600 likely voters living in rural counties in nine swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. They were conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a firm that works for Democratic candidates, conducted the poll, with help in designing and interpreting the poll’s result from North Star Opinion Research, a Republican firm. The polls were funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The October poll did not focus on farm policy, but found that on broader issues — values, the economy, Medicare, Social Security, helping the middle class and dealing with the federal deficit — the rural voters favored Romney. Obama was close to Romney only regarding women’s issues and health care.

A poll commissioned by the Agri-Pulse newsletter and released on Election Day showed that 78 percent of farmers with more than 500 acres planned to vote for Romney.

Of all farmers polled, 51 percent labeled themselves Republican, 26 percent Democrat, with the rest described as “other.”

Asked to name the biggest threats to the future of their farming operations, 33 percent listed environmental regulations and 29 percent said tax burdens.

The poll also showed that most respondents agreed that continuation of the Renewable Fuel Standard is “very important” or “somewhat” important.

Of the respondents, 49 percent of farmers indicated they grow only crops, 48 percent indicated they grow crops and raise livestock, and 3 percent said they raise only livestock, but half of the respondents who raise only livestock answered that continuing the RFS is “very important.”

The telephone survey of 319 farmers was conducted on November 1 by Pulse Opinion Research, an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC.

Rasmussen has a reputation for skewing polls toward the Republicans, and some advocates for small farmers said that a poll that only talks to farmers with 500 acres or more skewed the results.

However, a Reuters survey of those attending the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in January showed similar results. Of the 462 farmers and ranchers who responded to that survey, 74.7 percent of farmers and ranchers said they intended to vote for a Republican as president. Only 3.5 percent of the respondents said they would back Obama, while 20 percent said they were undecided.


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Graph shows the performance of the Republican presidential candidate among rural, urban and suburban voters since 1984. This year, Republican Mitt Romney improved the party's take among rural voters, but not enough to overcome a strong Democratic vote in the cities. (Daily Yonder/Center for Rural Strategies)