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No, the presidential candidates haven’t been spending a lot of time in rural communities recently, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some rural political news.
Here is a roundup of political reports about Yonder from the past few weeks.
Wisconsin voters don’t much like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, according to a poll conducted by Marquette University, although they appear to like Trump a bit less than they like Clinton.
Trump, for instance, is viewed unfavorably by 71 percent of women, 73 percent of college graduates and 65 percent of suburban resident.
Clinton, meanwhile, is viewed unfavorably by 66 percent of men, 65 percent of independents and 62 percent of rural voters.
Total it all up and Clinton is leading Trump by 7 points among registered voters in Wisconsin and by 9 points among likely voters.
In Arizona, a new poll finds Clinton leading Trump — but not in rural areas.
The Phoenix Business Journal reports that Clinton gets 46.5 percent of the vote versus 42.2 percent for Trump, among 1,060 people polled. Clinton leads Trump by 12 points among women and she is ahead by 17 points in Tucson. But Trump leads Clinton by six points in rural areas.
They are tied in Maricopa County, which is largely the city of Phoenix.
Another gap between rural and urban voters showed up in a Utah Priorities Project Voter Survey.
Two thirds of rural voters said stricter environmental controls are too costly, but only 47 percent of urban voters had the same point of view.
Larry Dreiling with the High Plains Journal is taking an unusual approach to reporting on this year’s presidential contest. He’s telling us about how the candidates ought to approach issues affecting rural communities.
Dreiling notes that a recent study of business startups finds that “while Americans in highly populated areas appear to be treading water in adding start-up businesses, rural areas have seen their business formation fall off a cliff.”
Part of the problem may be a lack of capital, Dreiling writes. Small businesses get only about 40 percent of the loan they request from lenders. Dreiling blames recent financial regulations put in place after the financial collapse of 2007. He suggests that banks with less than $3 billion in assets – community banks – need to operate under a looser set of rules.
For those who are interested in parsing the results from the primaries, National Public Radio reports a trend among Democrats: Hillary Clinton won the states with the highest income inequality and Bernie Sanders won the states with the most equal distribution of income.
Reporter Danielle Kurtzleben says that two factors may have contributed to this trend.
“One is race,” she writes. “The Southern states are a good place to look at this. Clinton was enormously successful in Southern states, thanks toheavy support from African-Americans in that region. The South is also the highest-poverty region in the United States, which contributes to that region’s high inequality scores. And, of course, there are many complicated links between poverty and race in America, helping to push the black poverty rate well above the white rate.”
She continues, getting to the rural part of this story:
“Another is rural- or urban-ness. Clinton by far did better in cities than Sanders did, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Sanders, meanwhile, did well in rural white counties. In fact, Clinton did far worse in rural white counties this year than she did in 2008, as the Journal found.”
Ten years ago, Democrats avoided gun control like the plague. Now, Fortune notes, Democrats are eager to adopt new gun rules. Some eight out of 10 Democrats say laws governing gun sales should be more strict. So what’s up?
The magazine says it’s the growing political divide between the parties. Republicans want less gun control and Democrats want more. In particular, Democrats have lost the rural vote so they are no longer worried about trying to appease these voters. The magazine’s Dan Friedman writes:
“Obama lost big with such rural white voters, but won more votes from woman, minorities and others groups clustered in or near cities. Those groups, such as black voters and woman with college degrees, support gun control. Republicans need older, disproportionally white, male voters to win.
“With a polarized electorate, both parties believe they benefit more by turning out core supporters than from courting a shrinking group of swing voters. Guns, like abortion, have become an issue both parties want to talk about.”
Another way to look at this phenomenon is that Democrats have essentially withdrawn from rural America. This is what the Washington Post concludes in an article written during the sit-in by Democrats in the House of Representatives.
James Hohmann quotes Ron Brownstein as saying Democrats have “essentially written off rural, gun-friendly heartland states….”
UPDATE: The Brexit. The less densely populated portions of England drove the United Kingdom’s vote in favor of leaving the European Union. London residents voted about 60-40 in favor of remaining. But every other region of England and Wales voted for severing membership in the trading bloc. Scotland and Northern Ireland favored remaining in the union.