October 29, 2020
With just days remaining in the 2020 presidential campaign, farmers and ranchers responding to the Farm Journal Pulse continue to show a strong preference for retaining President Donald Trump.
If the election was held today, who would you select for President of the United States? Donald Trump – 85% Joe Biden – 11% Undecided – 4% Responses: 1,311
The 85% of respondents voicing support for President Trump is in stark contrast to national polls showing, in some cases, a double-digit lead nationally for challenger Joe Biden. The current Real Clear Politics average of polls shows a 7.7 point advantage for Biden while the Five Thirty Eight average of polls pushes that to almost 9 points.
What’s driving the Trump support across farm country?
“The farmers I talk to keep saying it’s policy over personality,” says AgriTalk Radio host and Farm Journal Economist Chip Flory. “The tax policy, deregulation and conservative court picks are all top of mind. They aren’t thrilled with the tweets and other distractions, but the sense I get is that many farmers think a second Trump Administration will be better for their bottom line than a Biden Administration. And we can’t lose track of the fact that China is back and buying U.S. ag commodities.”
While the focus in farm country is policy, the national electorate is firmly focused on the personality side according to Jacob Rubashkin of Inside Elections.
“All this is impossible to separate from President Trump himself, right?” Rubashkin told Flory on AgriTalk. “I think that this election is far more about him than it is about Joe Biden. And for better or worse, the President hasn't been able to kind of settle on any one specific message to run on in the last couple months of this race. He’s bounced from attack line to attack line.”
Early voting has been historic, Rubashkin notes that we will not know until election day if the pandemic merely pushed those who already intended to vote to cast their ballots early, or if the voting rolls were truly expanded. The coverage of early voting, however, could promote more votes that could impact down-ballot races in particular.
“It creates this kind of ongoing national story and societal impact, that every day there's a new story about so such and such county where they're experiencing record turnout, and the TV shows love to run the footage of these lines running around the block", Rubushkin says. “This notion that everyone is going to vote, I think that's really powerful. And you might even get this kind of snowball effect that folks who perhaps were not planning to vote, or it wasn't as high on their list of priorities because they feel like everyone is doing it, they themselves go out and cast a ballot. For a lot of these down-ballot races, particularly in states like Texas where voter turnout typically is somewhat lower for Democrats, especially if they're able to turn out these kind of lower propensity voters who are generally younger, less wealthy and less white, they could really win some surprising upsets at the state legislative and congressional level.”