Can Rural Voters Be Swayed at the Ballot Box?
A new poll by the Center for Rural Strategies and Lake Research Partners asked rural Americans how they feel about their place in the economy and how their feelings intersect with modern politics.
The findings suggest a larger-than-expected share of rural voters may be swingable, and that their concerns and feelings could move the needle come November 2024, or even sooner.
While partisanship remains strong among rural voters, certain messages resonated with voters across the political spectrum. They included battling inflation, bringing good-paying jobs to local communities, and battling corporate greed.
Could Democratic candidates, whose support among rural voters has waned considerably over the past two decades, regain some support utilizing these messages?
- The survey suggests as many as 37% of rural voters are swing blue-collar voters who could be swayed by the certain policy proposals and messaging.
- While partisanship remains strong among the rural electorate, voters were aligned on many of their chief concerns: affordable housing, the high cost of food, and corporate greed.
- Three messaging points — lowering prices; bringing good-paying jobs to local communities; and a populist message focused on corporate greed — received such broad support that they rivaled voters’ agreement on core values like family and freedom.
- President Joe Biden is viewed 18 points more unfavorably than Donald Trump, suggesting the Democratic Party has a lot of work ahead if they plan to move rural swing voters.
- 51 percent of Democrats thought the economy was working well for them, compared to 17 percent of Republicans.
- Respondents were asked to pick two issues from a list of 14 that were the most important for themselves and their families. The respondents could also choose “other,” “none,” or “not sure.
- 54% chose the rising cost of living as one of their most important issues, followed by retirement and Social Security (25 percent), health care (19 percent), dysfunction in government (15 percent), and jobs and the economy (15 percent).
- Respondents were asked to pick two concerns from a list of 11 that were the most important for themselves and their families. The respondents could also choose “other,” “none,” or “not sure.
- 43% chose the rising cost of food as one of their most important issues, followed by rising gas prices (24 percent), rising energy costs (21 percent), rising housing costs (19 percent), and a lack of good-paying jobs (18 percent).
Are you interested in writing about or citing this survey and want to learn more? We can help arrange interviews with both Center for Rural Strategies President Dee Davis and pollster Celinda Lake, and provide further information about our work.
- Will Wright
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Video: Behind the Numbers
Pollster Celinda Lake talks with Center for Rural Strategies President Dee Davis about the findings of the poll and what’s on the mind of rural voters in 2023.
“We really asked questions to get beyond the surface, and we looked in-depth at concerns and values and then support for policies,” Lake said. “And what I loved about it was that the poll was really defying a lot of conventional wisdom.”