WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 – Rural voters in the Great Plains, Midwest and Southeast believe that elected officials ignore small communities and fail to invest in their future, according to a poll released today at the National Rural Assembly in Bethesda, Md.

The poll was conducted by Democrat Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and Republican Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group for the Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.

“Nearly 9 in 10 believe the rural and small-town way of life is worth fighting for. But they sadly believe the rural way of life may be fading and they want to stop it, reverse it, and revitalize rural America, Lake and Goeas said in a CFRA statement. “And they believe they are being ignored by politicians and government and blame them for the state of the rural economy.”

The poll found divided views about the role of government and populist views about the economy and big institutions. Three fourths agree that America’s future is weakened by a widening gap between the rich and families struggling to make ends meet. They split evenly on alternatives: whether government should play a stronger role in strengthening rural communities and making the economy work for the average person in rural and small-town America or “turning to big government to solve our problems will do more harm than good.”

The poll finds a contradiction in rural attitudes. “On the one hand, the language around lower taxes, smaller government and fewer regulations is one of the highest testing messages,” Lake said. “On the other, they support policies that call for more job training, increased infrastructure investments, more technology and better preschool – all requiring a role for government.”

Goeas found it “too simplistic to believe rural America is anti-government and that there is nothing for progressives to say, nor is it possible to say that rural America wants bigger government and more spending. They want tax breaks but they also support increased loans and grants to help people gain skills and open small businesses.” Other findings:

Three-fourths agree that too much of federal farm subsidies go to the largest farms, hurting smaller family farms. Three-fourths support tax credits and investment in new transmission lines for wind, solar and renewable electric generation in rural areas. Eight in ten support grants and loans for small towns to upgrade water and sewer systems and invest in roads and bridges.

“Politically, the poll reveals openings for candidates of either party willing to fight for federal policy that supports genuine opportunity for rural people and a better future for their communities,” said CFRA Executive Director Chuck Hassebrook.



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