Voters in some of the nation’s most rural areas, long considered a mainstay of small-government sentiments, have mixed views about the role federal policies should play in their lives, according to polling released Tuesday by the Center for Rural Affairs.
Surveying more than 800 small-town and countryside residents across the Midwest, the Great Plains and the South, the rural advocacy group found that people were evenly divided about whether Washington should make more effort to strengthen rural communities or whether such involvement “will do more harm than good.”
The polling, released just days after a farm bill failed to pass the House of Representatives, paints a nuanced portrait of rural America, one with a strong belief in reducing government spending and regulations, but increasingly in want of more effective policies that promote job training, infrastructure investment and education programs for low-income children outside of cities.
The story quotes Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center, who says rural voters are "not slaves to any ideology."
Among those surveyed, 42% identified as Republicans, and equal numbers--25% each--identified as Democrats and Independents. The poll also revealed a more diverse rural economy than is popularly perceived, with 80% of respondents not relying on agriculture for any significant portion of income. Six in ten opined that too much federal aid goes to the largest farms.
Eight in ten also supported job training, Medicaid, and tax refunds for low-income Americans. Fifty-nine percent said the federal government "had at least some responsibility to help the 'working poor advance economically.'"
A bipartisan team conducted the telephone poll in late May and early June. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.