Rural voters are (mostly) Trump voters, new poll shows: Why Biden suffers outside cities

Four years ago, JD Hill, a cattle rancher from Greenville, Kentucky, broke from his family’s Democratic tradition to vote for Donald Trump. Now a registered Republican, Hill plans to support Trump again this year. Despite his reservations about Trump’s legal issues and rhetoric, Hill feels that Democrats, particularly President Joe Biden, have neglected rural communities like his.

In a recent poll of likely rural voters, it was found that Americans residing outside urban and suburban areas overwhelmingly favor Trump over all other candidates. However, this support is lukewarm, with only a slim majority expressing genuine enthusiasm for Trump as the GOP frontrunner. Nearly a third of rural Trump supporters view their vote as a stance against Biden, believing that the president has ignored their concerns.

Hill, echoing the sentiments of many rural voters, feels that flyover states are often overlooked in national politics. Despite being aware of the dominance of electoral votes in larger states, Hill believes that rural America, crucial to the nation’s sustenance, deserves more attention.

The poll, conducted by researchers at Maine’s Colby College, suggests that rural Republican voters, like Hill, perceive Biden’s four years in office negatively. Trump’s successes in rural areas, particularly in primary contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, indicate a desire for a new direction among rural voters.

Rural voters, according to the poll, believe that Democrats, including Biden, cannot provide solutions to the challenges faced by their communities. Economic concerns, the perceived neglect of rural issues, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to this sentiment.

Despite Trump’s legal troubles, rural supporters seem unfazed, with an overwhelming 92% stating that a conviction would not change their vote. Hill, for instance, believes that Trump’s positive impact outweighs the negatives.

Colby College professors Dan Shea and Nicholas Jacobs, co-researchers of the poll, highlight that rural voters view Trump as a disruptor of traditional government, a sentiment that predates his presidency. Republicans have been resonating more with rural voters than Democrats since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.

The poll also reveals that Biden struggles to connect with rural America, with only 35% of rural residents likely to vote for him in the upcoming election. Rural voters are less familiar with Biden’s infrastructure plans and feel disconnected from the administration’s efforts.

Cindy Hendricks, a lifelong Republican and Hill’s neighbor, supports Trump for his focus on business success and strength, believing he would make America more respected internationally. Despite concerns about inflation and the rising cost of living, Hendricks has not witnessed the promised benefits of Biden’s infrastructure plan in her community.

To win over rural voters, Biden must address their economic concerns directly, according to Issac Wright of the Rural Voter Institute. A forthcoming research study by the institute delves into the reasons behind Democrats’ challenges in connecting with rural voters, highlighting a sense of threat to rural values and a feeling of being forgotten by politicians.

Hill, the Kentucky cattle rancher, fears that a Biden reelection could lead to an economic depression, particularly affecting farming and livestock industries. Despite reservations, he believes his vote will contribute to the country’s well-being and hopes for positive change.

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