Will the Rural Vote Turn Against Trump? - OZY | A Modern Media Company
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WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

A key Trump constituency is having to decide between partisanship and economic hardship.

By Eromo Egbejule

As campaigning heats up for this November’s presidential polls, President Donald Trump faces an unlikely challenge. The coronavirus pandemic risks turning a loyal set of voters against him: farmers.

In 2016, 3 million farmers voted for Trump. But his trade wars with China led to increased tariffs, adversely impacting export sales and worrying them. Now, the pandemic is spreading from Democrat-led states and urban centers to rural America with poor health infrastructure, insufficient medical insurance and particularly vulnerable older citizens.

“The lack of health care in much of rural America,” says Andrew Johnson, professor of management at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, means farmers “might be at a disadvantage.” Johnson has researched into the correlation between fatality projections and election outcomes.

Partisan identities are hardening.

Chris Larimer, political scientist, University of Northern Iowa

Because of the pandemic, trade tensions with China and the recession, American farmers will this year suffer more than $20 billion in losses, according to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Research Institute. So, as the American economy spectacularly contracts and farm bankruptcies rise, could farmers shift their political ideologies?

Democrats hope so, never mind the $19 billion coronavirus farm aid package announced by the president in May. But nothing is set in stone, says Chris Larimer, a political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa. “These partisan identities are hardening,” he says. “So you kind of have forces pushing in both ways. And it’s sort of this ongoing experiment to see which one breaks first.”

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