Poll Finds Rural Voters Support Investment in Small Business, Education

Most Rural Americans strongly believe the rural and small-town way of life is worth fighting for and support government action to strengthen the rural economy and communities.

Those findings come from a poll of rural voters in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeastern US by the nationally respected bipartisan polling team of Celinda Lake and Ed Goeas. You can see the full report here.

Rural voters think for themselves and don’t neatly fit an ideological stereotype. Most agree that America’s future is weakened by a widening gap between the rich and families struggling to make ends meet.

And nearly half say it’s time for government to play a stronger role in strengthening rural communities and making the economy work for the average person in rural and small-town America. But almost as many worry that “turning to big government to solve our problems will do more harm than good.”

Rural voters support several specific measures to strengthen rural opportunities and communities:

  • Over half said that “owning my own business or farm is a big part of the American dream for me,” and most agreed with helping small business through less government (cutting taxes, spending, and regulation) and strengthened government (loans, tax credits, training, and antitrust enforcement).
  • Three-fourths support tax credits and investment in new transmission lines for development of wind, solar, and other renewable electric generation in rural areas.
  • Eight-in-10 support grants and loans to revitalize small towns through critical upgrades to water and sewer systems and roads and bridges.
  • Six-in-10 say government has some or a lot of responsibility to help the working poor advance economically (versus a little or none). Eight-in-10 support job training to improve earnings, Medicaid for health coverage, and helping the working poor afford the necessities of life through payroll tax refunds like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Eighty-five percent favor preschool programs to prepare lower-income children to succeed in school.

To pay for such measures, rural voters support cutting farm subsidies to big mega farms, while opposing general cuts in farm subsidies. They oppose across the board tax increases, but favor repealing the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.

The poll also asked voters to identify the most convincing of several statements that might be made by a candidate for office. They chose: “Making rural America stronger is good both short term and long term. It will offer our children and grandchildren the opportunity to stay here, maintaining our way of life and protecting our values. By creating a stronger economy, investing in small businesses and schools, we can help working and middle class families get ahead. We can create stronger communities so young people can choose to stay and make a life in rural and small-town America.”

View the poll results as a pdf here.

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