WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2016 – In the most extensive poll of how U.S. farmers and ranchers plan to vote for president, respondents overwhelmingly say they’ll support a Republican, and among those, 40 percent say they will support Donald Trump.
“It’s clear that GOP-leaning voters are very dissatisfied with the direction of the country, the way President Obama is doing his job and the way that Congress is doing its job. And there was not much variance by age or farm size, although a higher percentage of younger voters expressed dissatisfaction with how Congress is functioning,” said Agri-Pulse Editor and founder Sara Wyant. “They want to elect someone who can make major changes.”
Among farm country Democrats, almost 49 percent of voters are giving Hillary Clinton an edge, compared to 41 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 10 percent undecided.
Democrats or those leaning Democrat made up 19 percent of the 750 farmers and ranchers surveyed. About 70 percent identified as Republican or leaning Republican, and 12 percent as independent.
Reflecting the demographics of commercial agriculture, two-thirds of the farmers polled were 55 years of age or older, including the 41 percent who were at least 65. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed were male.
Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country as well as President Obama’s leadership, and Congress’ performance, is high across all age brackets.
“We’ve watched the farm vote turn decidedly more conservative in recent years, but that’s not the case across all of rural America,” Wyant said. For example, 51 percent of voters in Iowa’s rural counties voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 48 percent voted for him in 2012, according to a New York Times analysis of the rural vote.
“Farmers and ranchers frequently tell us that they are very concerned about issues like overregulation, the Renewable Fuel Standard and the overall farm economy,” Wyant said. But when asked to identify the one most important issue facing this country heading into the 2016 presidential election, “national security/terrorism” was the top choice for both Republicans and Democrats, with 19 percent nationally, followed by “moral values” at 14 percent, “immigration/ag labor” at almost 14 percent and “deficit reduction” at 13.5 percent.
The poll, conducted by Aimpoint Research, is part of the ongoing Agri-Pulse “Rural Route to the White House” series that is designed to help educate farmers and ranchers about how presidential candidates view national issues which are important to their livelihoods. The series is sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Among voters who identified as Republican or leaning Republican in the poll, 40 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, compared to 15 percent for Sen. Ted. Cruz, 11 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio and 10 percent for Ben Carson. Other candidates were in single digits, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee garnering slightly more than 4 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with about 2 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 1.9 percent, businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 1.2 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 1 percent and Rick Santorum polling just below 1 percent.
However, in a sign of how fluid the race may still be as the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses approach on Feb. 1, over 12 percent of the GOP and over 10 percent of the Democrats indicated they are undecided.
Although only 12 percent of those surveyed identified as independents, almost 26 percent of those supported Donald Trump, followed by over 13 percent for Rubio and 10 percent for Sanders. However, almost 25 percent were undecided and slightly more than 13 percent did not answer.
The nationwide telephone survey was conducted from January 22-26, with 750 producers who own at least 200 acres of farmland. The average U.S. farm size is 434 acres, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, conducted in 2012. There is a margin of error of 3.6 percent with 95 percent confidence.
Survey results are available here.
About Agri-Pulse: Agri-Pulse is a trusted farm and rural policy source in Washington, D.C. The multimedia company provides a balanced perspective on a wide variety of issues including the farm bill, nutrition, trade, food safety, environment, biotechnology, organic, conservation and crop insurance. For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com.