By John Herath and Anna-Lisa Laca
While national polls show President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the White House, the latest Farm Journal Pulse shows continuing strong support for the president in farm country.
In a head-to-head matchup between the two nominees, 82% of the more than 1,500 farmer respondents to the Farm Journal Pulse poll said they would vote for President Trump if the election were held today. Thirteen percent said they would vote for Biden, while 5% remain undecided.
A second Pulse poll was conducted shortly after Biden tapped Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. That selection had little impact on the voting choices of Pulse respondents as only 9% indicated that having Harris on the ticket would make them more likely to vote for Biden. Forty-four percent of Pulse respondents said the selection of Harris as a running mate would make them less likely to vote for the Biden ticket.
Expect Harris and Vice President Mike Pence to come out swinging in the campaign, according to Pro Farmer Policy Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer.
“You've already seen Vice President Mike Pence go after her record in the ag area relative to her suggestions of reduced meat consumption relative to the dietary standards and bending more on the regulatory side, so it's already begun,” Wiesemeyer notes.
To win the election, Harris must help the ticket attract minority voters under that age of 40, according to Wiesemeyer.
“That's going to be the key, because that's what helped Hillary lose,” Wiesemeyer notes. “She could not get the same number and the same categories of Black voters that President Obama did.”
Harris has a long history with the agriculture industry both as a U.S. Senator and as California’s Attorney General. Known as an advocate for farm workers and immigrants, last year Harris reintroduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act which would require overtime pay for people who work on farms. Additionally, she has co-sponsored the Agriculture Worker Program Act which provides farm workers temporary protected status and a path toward citizenship. Harris is also a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, and in January she voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The president has enjoyed steady support in the Farm Journal Pulse Poll with his approval rating remaining in a range between 75% and 80% for the past year. At the time of publication, national polling averages by FiveThirtyEight show Biden with an 8-percentage point advantage in the Nov. 3 election.
“As former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said on AgriTalk last Friday, the goal for Democrats is increasing the percentage of rural voters supporting Biden and other Democratic candidates enough so it makes a difference in key swing states,” Wiesemeyer says. “The next FJ Pulse poll will be important to see if Biden's current 13% tally increases. If so, the Democratic Party's plan could have some election-year impacts.”