In Pennsylvania, rural residents make up almost 27% of the state’s population, and they have played a critical role in past elections.
A new poll found up to 37% of rural voters can be swayed by candidates’ messaging and policy proposals.
Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, said many rural Americans identify themselves by the work they do as farmers, loggers, miners, and plant workers. He noted as the occupations disappear, many are left feeling forgotten and neglected.
“As those jobs are replaced by technology or as those jobs move overseas to places that can handle them more cheaply, then is that in some ways diminishing our role as rural Americans who were trying to be part of something bigger?” Davis asked.
The poll by the Center for Rural Strategies and Lake Research Partners asked people in rural America how they feel about their role in the economy and their perception of modern politics. Davis pointed out he encourages politicians and policymakers across the political spectrum to address their constituents using a holistic, long-term approach.
Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, said political polarization among rural voters is increasing and influencing perceptions of the economy. Despite the divisiveness, the survey found some popular policies with core values have bipartisan support.
“The top policies that are really intense and almost at a values level are creating manufacturing jobs instead of shipping jobs overseas, lowering prescription drug prices and food so that people don’t have to choose between medication and food,” Lake outlined. “Cracking down on price gouging.”
Lake emphasized increasing affordable health care is an emerging issue, and added voters also support expanding access to high-speed internet. Some 66% view President Joe Biden unfavorably, while 48% view former President Donald Trump unfavorably.
This story was produced with original reporting from Will Wright for The Daily Yonder.